Metro residents worried about emboldened coyote population

OKLAHOMA CITY - Residents in some metro neighborhoods are noticing a growing number of coyotes in the streets and at their doorsteps, and they're worried the predators may go after even more than their house pets.

One doorbell camera in the Ponderosa Estates neighborhood, near N.W. 122nd St. and Council, has caught coyotes walking up to the front door many times over the past year. Most recently, it caught a large coyote stalk a stray dog, and corner it in the doorway.

"Looks like he's got this dog that's undernourished trapped up on the front porch," said Ponderosa HOA President Ralph Crawford, "and you hear a lot of growling going on, and the coyote's just pacing back and forth trying to lure this dog back out."

The owner of the home let the stray inside before the coyote could make a move, but Crawford said many neighbors blame them for other missing pets.

He also pointed out that these coyotes seem more bold than ones he's come across in the past.

"When I jump over the fence or go back there, they kind of scatter but they all stop and want to look, and that's unusual for coyotes. I've never seen that," Crawford said.

He and others worry they might go after small children.

"When I approach them, I'm a little bit shocked, and a little bit concerned when there's multiple animals staring back at me," he said.

Don P. Brown, an information specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said generally coyotes are as afraid of people as people are of them. He said it's best not to harass them and let them pass by on their way.

Brown agreed there are a lot of coyotes, as well as other wildlife this year because the conditions were good for reproduction. If one does become a nuisance, he suggested calling a nuisance wildlife control operator to take care of it. However he also pointed out that it is an animal that can legally be hunted.

"It is a fur-bearing animal, and it does have a hunting season," Brown said. "The hunting season is year-round, so if you have a hunting license and you’re in an area that allows hunting, then you’re welcome to try to harvest that animal."

It's a solution Crawford said he and neighbors may adopt.

"I don't want to exterminate them," Crawford said. "I think that maybe we need to do some harvesting because I think if we have that many, you can say it'll take care of itself, but at what cost?"

Local game wardens and wildlife experts, like the wildlife nuisance control operator, can be found on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation website.