MANKATO — There are coyotes in Mankato, but unlike Wile E. Coyote, they could pose a threat to house pets instead of roadrunners.
The population of coyotes in the region has increased over the past several years, which could explain why people think they’re seeing more of them, said Dan Ruiter, Department of Natural Resources regional information officer.
“They are an unmanaged species,” Ruiter said. “There are more coyotes now than there were 20 years ago, and they pretty much go where they want. They try to avoid human contact.”
There have been reported coyote sitings in the area on Mankato neighborhood message boards and people have expressed rightful concern for their cats and dogs.
Kay Bachmann, who lives on Adams Street, wrote that she sees coyote tracks on her sidewalk often.
“Their tracks in the snow come up our front sidewalk and they walk into our neighbors' yards and our backyard,” Bachmann wrote. “We have a pet cat that is our baby, and she loves to be outside but we keep her on a leash. I used to let her out early in the morning before daylight, and now I'm afraid to do that.”
Coyotes are Minnesota’s most abundant large predator and are seen all over the state. The dog-like animals weigh between 25 and 30 pounds and have a shaggy grayish coat with a bushy tail.
Stein Innvaer, the regional assistant wildlife manager, said the DNR always advises that pets be supervised when outside. Coyotes eat small animals like hares and mice, and are nomadic.
“Cats left outdoors overnight in rural areas are at great risk. Coyotes are opportunists — in this time of year now when it's cold and food is scarce, they might take the risk,” Innvaer said. “We don't recommend any pets be left outside untended at any time. The probability goes down in town but coyotes are everywhere. They’re in the big cities out west like Los Angeles and Phoenix.”
There is nothing new about coyotes in town though, said Shelly Schultz, Mankato director of public information and customer service. She said that if there was ever a coyote situation that needed to be handled, the city would call the DNR for assistance.
“The sightings and howlings are normal with all our ravines in Mankato. Reports of this date back 10 years,” Schultz said. “This is not new.”
Joe Stangel, Nicollet area wildlife manager, said that in eight years he’s never heard of coyotes being aggressive in urban situations.
“Usually they take a look at you and run fast the other way,” Stangel said. “The only coyote call I’ve gotten from Mankato is a lady who called to say she saw a roadkill on one of the streets by a Kwik Trip.”
Stangel said the DNR recommends residents secure garbage cans and wildlife feeders to prevent coyote access, and supervise their pets while they are outside as well as vaccinate them.
If a coyote is nearby and doesn’t immediately run from people, the advice is to shout to try to get the animal to leave and to never feed them.