Coyotes abundant, troublesome in Rock County
AVON TOWNSHIP When Guy Peterson and Tom Nacious lost three horses, they had suspects.
Their horses were hit Tuesday, Feb. 16, by a SUV on Highway 81 in Avon Township, but Nacious said a pack of coyotes chased the horses onto the road.
“My horses wouldn’t go down the highway, even if they were out,” Nacious said. “I have coyotes out here.”
Coyotes are plentiful in Rock County, said Mike Diekoff, state Department of Natural Resources game warden for Rock County.
Coyote management has become an issue in western states because the animals prey on livestock, according to the DNR. Livestock attacks in Wisconsin, however, are minor.
The DNR doesn’t have a scientific estimate of the state’s coyote population, but annual harvest data suggests a population increase of more than 20 percent since the mid-1990s.
Coyote sightings have increased three to five times in southern Wisconsin in the last decade, according to the DNR. The animals appear to be moving farther south.
Coyotes also have grown in urban areas and on the edges of cities.
The animals are smaller than an adult gray wolf but larger than a fox. They are members of the dog family and have long legs, a tapered nose and pointed ears. They have a bushy and black-tipped tail and weigh 25 to 42 pounds.
The animals prefer open fields to forest cover, but they live in ranging habitats, according to the DNR. They have a diverse diet that changes throughout the year.
They hunt in small packs and eat fruit, garbage, slugs, deer fawn or house pets, according to the DNR. They mostly prey on small rabbits and squirrels.
Coyotes can be hunted anytime in southern Wisconsin except the day before the opening of gun deer season, according to the DNR.
Several people in Rock County hunt coyotes, Diekoff said. Local groups hunt them with hounds or call them.
In the horse crash, two of the horses died immediately after being struck, according to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. A third had to be euthanized.
Nacious said it wasn’t the first time coyotes caused trouble for his animals. They have chased his horses in the past, he said.
Coyotes also have killed 50 or 60 of his 150 chickens, he said. And they have killed deer hung up on his fence.
“They’re out here every day,” Nacious said.