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Wild encounters: Coyote sightings on rise in Woodbury

Coyotes are often confused with their cousin, the wolf, but usually stand about 18 inches high at the shoulder and weigh about 30 pounds. Submitted photo

Woodbury's residents have been increasingly reminded of their wildlife neighbors, according to recent police reports.

Between Jan. 9 and Feb. 10, Woodbury police fielded six reports of coyotes seen wandering in city limits.

Woodbury police community service officer Garrett Kissner said the wildlife encounters have become a regular occurrence.

"We definitely have had quite a few calls," he said.

Recent reports have ranged from residents spotting a coyote feeding in a Water Lily Lane backyard to a pack of five coyotes reportedly roaming a Century Avenue yard.

In all cases, the callers reported the animals were not acting aggressively and eventually moved on. Kissner said that's normal behavior for coyotes.

He said he wasn't aware of any cases involving attacks on humans or pets in Woodbury. A coyote has never attacked a human in recorded Minnesota history, according to the state's Department of Natural Resources.

So what has led to the apparent increase in coyote visits in the city?

According to the DNR, coyote populations are "establishing and increasing in the Twin Cities."

Kissner said he's not sure why Woodbury has experienced more visits, but suspects the animals may be drawn to garbage. Some people have attempted to feed the animals, a practice Kissner said should be strictly avoided.

He said the coyotes have been known to frequent wooded areas in the city, where they hunt for mice, deer and other small mammals. Kissner said those areas include the city's border with Maplewood along Century Avenue and the space between the State Farm Insurance building and the Woodbury Lakes shopping center.

Kissner also recommended securing garbage cans, confining pets if coyotes are spotted and keeping pets vaccinated. Pet food also should not be left outside.

If a coyote does not immediately run from you, the DNR recommends chasing or shouting at it until it disperses.

If aggressive behavior is observed, the DNR says "removal of the coyotes may be necessary." However, the agency notes that it does not trap, shoot or relocate coyotes.

Removing coyotes is the responsibility of the landowner or tenant, the agency states. While coyotes may be taken at any time by shooting or trapping without a license or permit, the DNR notes that residents can call the agency for information on pest control contractors or trapping techniques for coyote removal.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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