By Christine Bryant
It’s been 100 years since the first coyote in Ohio was recorded.
A century later, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park recently celebrated this milestone with a special program at the Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center in Galloway, “100 Years of Coyotes,” that allowed visitors to get an up close look at coyote habitat and learn why they’re a valuable member of the wild.
When spotted in 1919, wolves had been absent from Ohio for more than 50 years, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Naturalist Craig Biegler said.
“Since then, they have spread to every county in the state, but nobody is sure exactly how many live in Ohio,” he said.
Although the sounds and sightings of coyotes are common, especially in more rural areas, Biegler says there are many misconceptions about these animals.
“For example, many people think that coyotes hunt in packs, but this is a major difference between the two canines,” he said. “Though they will share the same territory with close family members and exhibit a social structure, coyotes find food on their own, preferring to eat small animals like rabbits and rodents.”
Coyotes also provide valuable pest control, he said.
“A single coyote will eat around 10 small mammals a day,” Biegler said. “They are fascinating to observe and seem infinitely adaptable, thriving in deserts, forests, prairies and urban environments.”
At the program, naturalists attempted to clear up some of these misconceptions, he said.
“For better or worse, coyotes are the last large predator that can be found throughout Ohio,” Biegler said.
Program attendees came to the nature center to see and touch a real coyote pelt and skull, Biegler said.
“After an introductory talk, we headed out onto the trail and walked for about half a mile. When we reached a good coyote habitat, we played some of their calls and tried to get a response,” he said. “I hope that people came away from the program with a new appreciation for coyotes and with the knowledge of how to manage interactions with them.”