City launches wildlife resources page following reported coyote activity
The City will present the coyote management plan to council.
In response to some residents alerting the city to multiple coyote sightings and reports of pet attacks over the past few weeks, staff have launched a robust centralized resource page to guide the public on how they can help minimize interactions with coyotes and other wildlife on the island.
Mercer Island Police Department Operations Commander Mike Seifert said the department had received five reports of animal attacks since November 2021. During the week of Jan. 24, Seifert told the Journalist that a woman contacted police and said she smelled a coyote stalking her with an adult child and a dog as they strolled the island. No contact was established between the coyote and the group.
Following this latest incident, staff have connected with state and federal wildlife agencies to help monitor coyote behavior and have formalized a coyote management plan to present to city council at the of its February 1 meeting. Additionally, the city will bring United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) coyote expert Matt Stevens back to the community to review his analysis of local coyote behavior and determine the city’s next steps in addressing the situation. .
“We try to remind people that the island has a lot of green spaces and the coyotes have become more and more urban lately. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on with wildlife and know how to deter influencing animal behavior,” said Mason Luvera, city communications manager.
Comments that flooded the town’s Facebook feed after the wildlife resource page announcement ranged from one commenter thanking the town and trusting the experts, to another commenter saying the coyotes should be removed from the island. .
During a virtual community meeting in November 2021 with 70 attendees, including concerned residents, Stevens said he believed there were at least two — and possibly four — coyotes roaming the island, according to a precedent Journalist item. Although several coyote sightings were reported at the time, Stevens said he determined there was no threat to human health and safety. He mentioned in his presentation that “a cat may have disappeared or people have even seen them crossing the road with their cat”.
Stevens’ main recommendation is that people bring their pets inside, especially because they know coyotes are around.
The city’s Coyote Sightings and Interactions page on its Let’s Talk community engagement platform notes that residents should avoid leaving food or trash around homes; never feed wild animals or leave pet food, whether for rabbits, raccoons, deer or others; keep their pets supervised when outdoors, including keeping dogs on a leash at playtime or in more desolate areas.
“Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans. If you encounter a coyote, the Department of Fish and Wildlife encourages you to ‘mist’ it by jingling keys, making loud noises, shouting, etc.” the page reads. To report a coyote sighting or interaction, residents can call the Mercer Island Police Department’s non-emergency number at 425-577-5656, or 911 if one feels unsafe. immediate or threatened by an animal.
Regarding why coyotes are not removed from the island, the Let’s Talk page notes, “There are several laws dictating the management of coyotes in Washington State. The capture and relocation of coyotes is prohibited by state law, and the only option for removing the animals from the island involves euthanasia, which responsible agencies only enact when certain behavioral patterns are evident.
These behaviors are, according to Stevens in a report, coyotes chasing or taking supervised pets, especially during the day; take pets on a leash and chase after joggers, bikers, etc. ; and seen in and around children’s play areas and schools during the day.
For more information, visit the Mercer Island wildlife page at: https://letstalk.mercergov.org/wildlife-on-mercer-island, and the Coyote Sightings and Interactions page at: https://letstalk.mercergov.org/wildlife-on-mercer-island/news_feed/coyote-updates.