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Recently there has been an increasing number of questions from residents regarding the number of coyotes sighted in Sunfish Lake. As a result, the City Council invited Bob Fashingbauer, the Area Wildlife Supervisor for DNR out of Rosemount (651-322-4643) to present information on coyotes to Council members and citizens at the March 4, 2020 Council meeting. The following is a brief synopsis of his presentation.
- The average coyote is 18 inches tall and weighs 30 pounds but can appear much larger in the winter due to their fur coat.
- Most coyotes live less than 2 years in the wild, though one animal is known to have reached 13 years of age.
- They can run up to 43 mph and are very intelligent and adaptable and are great balancers of the ecosystem.
- There are 2 types:
- Transient - usually loners looking for new territory and are roaming.
- Residents - family groups of 5-6 adults plus pups.
- Monogamous and breed from December through March.
- Gestation period 60-63 days - typically 4-7 pups.
- Stay in den up to 6 weeks and are self-sufficient around 6-9 months.
- Their diet is small rodents (mice and rats) gophers, rabbits, roadkill deer, insects and fruit.
- Coyotes can thrive in a small territory if there is enough food and shelter, but if not, they will expand the size of their territory to include enough places to hunt for food to sustain themselves. The size of an urban coyote’s range is dependent on the abundance of food and can be anywhere from 2 square miles to 10 square miles or more.
- Coyotes do their best to hide their dens and will often have multiple dens and multiple entrances to a den to help conceal their activity. These dens are usually tucked away in shrubbery or the wooded patches of parks, washes, culverts, golf courses, preserves and similar spaces.
- It is normal for a coyote to hunt during the day; but urban coyotes have made a behavior change to avoid humans, switching from being active at dawn and dusk or during daylight hours, to being mostly active at night. The strategy lowers the risk of encountering the species of which they are naturally afraid while still hunting in an urban territory. However, it is not unusual to see a coyote during the day; especially in the spring and summer when raising their pups and they need to find more food. Urban residents frequently misinterpret daytime sightings as a rise in the urban coyote population or that the coyote could be rabid, neither of which are usually true.
- They will attack and kill small dogs and cats for two reasons; one is to defend their territory especially during the breeding season and secondly, they may view small dogs and cats as prey. Best to keep small pets on leash or be present when they are outside.
- It is extremely rare that a coyote attacks a human.
- There are less than 6 reported coyote bites per year versus 4.7 million reported dog bites annually. Bob emphasized they are far more afraid of us than we are of them!
- He states the best option to keep them under control is hazing and showing the coyote that they should be afraid of humans.
- “Be big” by raising arms and shouting; throw objects at them; blow a whistle or spray them with water.
- Do not run; you will look like prey.
- Keep hazing until the coyote has left the area. Consistent hazing is effective and everyone must do it. Naturally, do not haze a sick or cornered animal.
- Children should be loud and call for an adult or slowly move towards an adult - DO NOT RUN!
- Bob indicates the biggest problem is when someone decides to feed coyotes which serves to entice them into an area.
The Council was considering using the Bow Hunters Association to hunt local coyotes, which by state law can be killed. Most of us were surprised to find that studies indicate killing does not work well to control coyotes. The reason being that coyotes typically have 4 to 7 pups; but if other coyote competition is eliminated in an area, they will adapt by having up to 15 pups. However, Bob was supportive of permitting our bow hunters during the deer harvest season to also hunt coyotes. He congratulated SFL for the effective deer harvesting we do as he indicated it is quite successful and leads to a healthier and reduced deer herd. Regardless of what we do, we all may continue to witness that occasional 1:00 a.m. coyote howling!
Sick Raccoons – Recently your police officers have been responding to a number of sick raccoons throughout the City of Sunfish Lake, but primarily in the area of Angel and Charlton Roads. Many residents fear the raccoons are rabid. Police Chief Bud Shaver contacted the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and spoke with a local conservation officer. The officer reported the raccoons are most likely experiencing Canine Distemper.
Canine Distemper is a viral disease that affects animals in specific families to include raccoons, ferrets and dogs to name a few, but not domestic cats. The symptoms of Canine Distemper can mimic rabies. It is passed from animal to animal through contact; much like a cold is transferred between people. The disease tends to occur when an animal population has grown excessively. Once the disease kills off the excessive population, contact between the animals is reduced and the disease diminishes.
Dr. David Abramowicz of South St. Paul Animal Hospital states, most family dogs can be easily protected by receiving their annual vaccinations. He encourages pet owners who are uncertain if their pets have current vaccinations, to call their veterinarian and ask if the family pet has current shots. For additional questions you may contact Dr. Abramowicz at 651-455-5897.
Click HERE for a link for additional information on Canine Distemper
Click HERE for a U-Tube video of a raccoon with Canine Distemper
The West St. Paul Police department would like to remind the residents of Sunfish Lake to be mindful when it comes to door to door solicitors. Although many solicitors have good intentions, some do not and it’s not always easy to spot the con artist. Here are some tips that will help keep you safe from the con artist or unwanted door to door solicitor.
If someone is soliciting door to door in your neighborhood, please remember that:
· If someone comes to your door with or without a permit, you are not obligated to engage in a conversation or open the door.
· A door to door solicitor must first obtain a license from City Council before beginning to solicit.
· A solicitor must show a photo identification card and their city-issued license number when asked by a resident, a police officer or a city employee.
· Call out or look through a peephole or window before opening your door to anyone.
· Take your time before buying something. Do some comparison shopping. A reputable salesperson will be willing to come back after you have done some comparison price shopping.
· Do not let anyone in your home that you do not know. It’s much more difficult to rid yourself of them once they are inside; it’s also potentially dangerous.
· Talk about these tips with your children and make sure they never open a door to an unknown guest.
A person may be a fraudulent solicitor if he/she:
· Is out of compliance with the municipal code (lacks a City-issued ID.)
· Acts aggressively, is threatening, or tries to make you feel guilty for not wanting to buy what he/she is selling.
· If they pressure you to make a decision on the spot or will only accept cash.
· Asks you for your bank account or social security numbers.
· Watch out for identity theft. Providing a check or credit card information to the solicitor can expose you to identity theft. If you choose to purchase something either purchase it at a store front, the product’s website or if it isn’t too costly, provide cash.
Watch Out for Door- to Door Scams:
· Home Security Rip Offs: A scam often starts with a door-to-door sales pitch for a home security system by an unlicensed operator. Watch out for these scams, you might get a little protection or no protection at all; or worse the operator may come back and break into your home while you’re away. Always research the product before you buy!
· Contractor Capers: You will be told that your roof needs to be fixed and it will cost you thousands of dollars. Or a solicitor just happened to be in the area and has some left over materials from a job he just did at one of your neighbor’s house. They will ask for money up front and will tell you he or she will be returning to finish the project the next day. Most often they never come back.
· Pesky Pests: An unlicensed pest control operator will tell you that your house might be infested, because they are working on other houses in the area. Remember always work with a licensed pest control operator.
· Charitable Hucksters: Watch Out! These scammers will try and fool you with fraudulent charitable names. Do not be fooled by names that sound impressive or that closely resemble the name of familiar organizations. Remember legitimate organizations will not pressure you into giving money immediately. Ask the solicitor to leave the materials for you to review later.