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The Defiance, Ohio Coyote

ohio coyote

Off in the distance on Hopkins Street, a resident of Defiance, Ohio “sees” a coyote. Did she really see a coyote? Could the animal have been a dog that looks like a coyote? There’s no time for proper identification. The public must be immediately warned about this looming threat, so the woman reports her alarming find on a local Facebook group known for exaggeration and hysteria:

Coyote spotted on Hopkins! Pretty sure it got a poor kitty 🥺 Please get your cats inside if at all possible!

Did the coyote kill a cat? “Pretty sure,” doesn’t sound like evidence of a “crime.” If the woman saw a dead cat, it could have been killed by a redtail hawk, a dog, or a human. Should we not know for sure whether the coyote killed the cat, especially since modern-day Puritans are now calling for the “witch” to be executed; his only crime him being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? Oh, wait, we humans execute wildlife just because we can. Christianity taught us that we have dominion over the earth and all its inhabitants. If we want to indiscriminately kill a curious, roaming coyote, that’s our right.

One woman suggests that someone shoot the coyote (in town) lest it eat someone’s baby. According to her, people who disagree with her are “soft”; people who care more about coyotes than babies. Think of the babies! Never mind the fact that no baby is in danger. It’s Facebook, the place where anything is possible, including coyotes eating infants.

Yours truly, the village atheist, rationalist, and skeptic decides to respond. Polly rolls her eyes, knowing that the forthcoming discussion will not change minds. But, she also knows her passionate animal-loving husband will not let this pass. He just can’t help himself. His therapist has come to a similar conclusion.

TV: This is why they need to let people hunt in city limits. Kids are going to get hurt.

Numerous locals objected to her statement, thinking she was kidding.

TV: I most certainly am not kidding. I see all kinds of kids at the park across the street and I would do anything to protect a child from a wild animal my child’s or not. I’m not saying it to be mean. I love animals too. But a person’s life is more important than an animal that can potentially kill.

TV: And that’s why I say people are soft. They would rather save the animals but it comes back to what you are saying. And eventually, people will get hurt. There has to be a solution. Until then I guess the cat population will become less. [Keep in mind, there was no evidence for the coyote killing a cat.]

TV: I saw a video on the news about a toddler attacked by a coyote. I have friends in Manhattan, New York City, Chicago. Coyotes are pretty much everywhere. Hopefully they’ll have a professional coyote cull. Hope they find a solution, with climate getting hotter and building in more rural areas and our wooded areas disappearing, plus lack of predators, they’ll continue to multiply.

BG: People soft? Really? How about responsible pet ownership and keeping cats where they belong — inside. We coexist with wildlife. In most instances, wildlife-human interactions are enjoyable. Problematic interactions can usually be addressed without killing the animals. Killing them is an easy way out. If being thoughtful and having compassion for ALL life makes one “soft,” I’m definitely soft. I prefer to live in a world where killing/bloodshed/violence aren’t the first things we turn to when solving problems.

TV: And that’s your opinion. So it’s ok for the coyote to kill because that’s the circle of life. But humans are frowned on for killing? What did we eat before vegetarians and “vegans’ [started eating] meat? That involves killing animals as well. Move along. I don’t judge your opinion you don’t have to judge mine.

BG: No, I’m not moving along. This is a public forum. No cats outside, no kitty nuggets for the coyote. Common wildlife control practice? Remove food source.

TV: IF THE FOOD SOURCE IS GONE THEN POSSIBLY A CHILD. It’s adorable people think they will leave town if all the cats are inside…. What else is out there for them to chew on? I’m not trying to be a bitch. We all have to look at the bigger picture here. Your opinion won’t change just like mine won’t.

BG: Please do your homework on children being killed by coyotes. I did, and it’s extremely rare. If your goal is to save children, or cats for that matter, there’s a host of more important, pressing issues that should be addressed. You are positing a false assumption when you suggest the coyote(s) are hungry. Do you have actual evidence that backs up your claim? Just because an animal wanders into a yard doesn’t mean he is hungry. Thanks for the discussion. The last word is yours. ❤️ [I lied.] 🙂

TV: I just had an opinion sir and everyone is quick to judge my opinion. Quick to judge people for having outside cats. Quick to judge everyone. All I’m saying is One day it could be a human or possibly a child. I guess if someone gets attacked somehow it would be the human’s fault… killing a child is rare. Ha. So let’s risk it and not do anything about it.

BG: Life is filled with risk. All we can do is rationally examine the risk, and act accordingly. It is far more likely that children will be killed by trampolines, automobiles, their parents, or people shooting guns at coyotes within city limits. Yet, we tend to focus on things that rarely, if ever, happen. I could find no record of anyone ever being killed by a coyote in Ohio.

This is a public forum, so pushing back on your claims is not “judging.”

As far as outside cats, my wife and I feed a dozen outside cats every day. We’ve taken in numerous stay cats over the years. So, yes, I have a strong opinion about people who allow their cats to indiscriminately roam the neighborhoods, killing countless birds and procreating at will. Cats should be treated the same way dogs are: licensed and properly sheltered.

I reject the notion (primarily taught by Western Christianity) that humans have dominion over the earth. We have a symbiotic relationship with the biological world around us, including animals. I try my best not to kill other animals, including spiders, snakes, and other animals deemed annoyances.

Humans are just a puzzle piece in the grand picture of life, not the picture itself.

— end of discussion —

The Humane Society has this to say about coyote-human interaction:

An encounter with a coyote in the urban and suburban landscape is a rare event, even where coyotes are found in large numbers.

These animals are generally nocturnal and seldom seen. You may catch a glimpse of a coyote, however, as they move from one part of their territory to another in search of prey (usually small mammals such as mice or voles).

Observing a coyote in this manner (even during the daytime) does not mean that the coyote is sick or aggressive. If the coyote is scared away by your presence, they are exhibiting natural behavior and this should not be cause for concern.

A coyote who does not run away when encountering humans has, most likely, become accustomed or habituated to people. This generally occurs when a coyote has been fed (in the form of handouts, pet food left outside, or unsecured garbage).

Coyotes who come to depend on these sources of food may begin to approach humans looking for a handout and may begin to exhibit what’s perceived as “too tame” or aggressive behavior.

When coyotes become habituated, hazing can reinstill the natural fear of humans. Hazing entails using a variety of scare techniques to teach a coyote to regard people as threatening and stay away from them.

Coyote attacks on people are very rare. More people are killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than are bitten by coyotes.

Often, coyote attacks are preventable by modifying human behavior and educating people about ways to prevent habituation. In many human attack incidents, it turns out that the offending coyote was being fed by people. In many other instances, people were bitten while trying to rescue their free-roaming pet from a coyote attack. Less often, people are bitten by cornered coyotes, or even more rarely, rabid coyotes.

There have only been two recorded incidences in the United States and Canada of humans being killed by coyotes. One involved a child in Southern California in the 1980s and the other a 19-year-old woman in Nova Scotia in 2009. These events, rare as they are, are serious and warrant serious response.

A coyote who has bitten a person will have to be specifically targeted and removed from the population. Most health departments will mandate testing for rabies, which requires that the offending coyote be killed. Under no circumstances does an attack by an individual coyote warrant killing at large, in an effort to reduce the population or simply ring up the bill on coyotes as an act of retribution.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar

    Sounds like your coyote ‘problem’ is similar to our foxes here in the UK. They are referred to as urban foxes and probably every neighbourhood has a few. Like coyotes they are harmless and nocturnal, so seldom seen. My house overlooks a huge school playground and playing field and I often see two or three foxes scavenging when nobody is around. On the odd occasion one is confronted it will run for cover. They don’t appear to instil the fear factor in the population that coyotes seem to in the US.

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    Wow. All you people living in the Midwest US with no wild life have a lot to learn.

    I lived for many years in a city in AZ on the edge of the desert. We had coyotes everywhere and constantly. We also had bobcat, mountain lions, bear, rattle snakes, great horned owls, various hawks and eagles, Gilda monsters, evil poisonous spider just to name a few. And of course we have the various plants that will impale you when given the chance.

    And let’s not forget the javelina..they are very aggressive. More dangerous than coyote and more that willing to attack a human and their leashed dog. I will take the coyote any day over a javelina.

    When I had friends from the East visit I told them that every plant and animal AZ can inflict serious harm and death. Nothing here is tamed and controlled like Ohio. Leave plants and animals alone and they will leave you alone.

    It is common knowledge that you do not let pets roam freely. But no one runs around screaming that we need to kill these animals to protect the kids. These animals generally avoid humans and when you do encounter them there is usually a peaceful ending with everyone moving the opposite direction. And humans are taught that they live with these animals and we must respect them.

    As for coyote, you will hear large groups of them calling in the desert in the evenings and night. I am sure that would strike horrible fear in this lady’s life but people in AZ just enjoy the sounds of nature. And what advice do they give for people who meet coyotes in the desert? Be loud, stand tall, and throw stones to scare them off.

  3. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer


    I would ask Ms. Panicked if she believes that the theoretically killed-by-coyote cat never hunted?

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    There are wild animals everywhere. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. Why is this woman getting so worked up over a coyote?

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    As usual you’re wiser than your neighbors. They can tell what coyotes eat by examining their poop.

    “Cat remains were found in 20 percent of urban coyote scat, as compared to four percent of suburban coyote scat,” the National Park Service reported. “Human food resources including garbage, ornamental fruits, and domestic cats accounted for between 60 to 75 percent of urban coyote diets.”

    So mostly they are raiding your garbage, though they do eat cats. The lesson is that you should have indoor cats. Pretty simple. If you don’t love ’em enough to keep them indoors, you won’t miss them when they become Wile E. Coyote’s dinner.

    I did hear about some coyote-wolf hybrids that posed a bigger threat, but this ain’t that.

    • Avatar
      Yulya Sevelova

      Coyotes. It’s true that they’re in all 50 states, though some states have more of them, especially the Southwest. Lots of them in California,and they often patrol railroad tracks. Up and down the tracks, and of course plenty of apartments and condos are next to the tracks. They will go after small dogs,and cats- and the only answer is to keep the pets in at night, from sunset to after sunrise. I found my share of half- eaten cats, and even overheard a pack carry off a small dog that was inside the yard ! I couldn’t get to that poor dog ! Yes,they are very intelligent, and can get into the yard. And go through pet doors too. It makes sense to chase the coyotes,clap your hands, throw things. It’s fascinating how a member of the pack will howl when they corner prey,to summon the rest of their group. You do hear them in the foothills,or at times in a neighborhood,doing this. No need to shoot them, just relocate problem packs. I’d say put them on birth control, actually. As some packs are huge. There are no coyotes where I live now. There’s ways to coexist with them. I’ve been at times very near those animals. Idiots generally run the Dept. of Fish and Game here. Even so, coyotes can be managed.

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    MJ Lisbeth

    How much do you want to bet that woman who wants to kill a coyote in the name of protecting children is against abortion even if the pregnant girl was raped or incested. Or that she opposes aid to dependent children unless, of course, her kids are recipients? Or that she thinks kids need to be “shielded “ from the truth about slavery, LGBTQ people and the genocide of native peoples?

    Having been an educator—and having worked with handicapped and chronically ill kids (almost all of whom were poor) showed me that people and countries who claim to do whatever they do in the name of “protecting children “ because they’re “our future” don’t actually give a flying fuck about children.

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    Barbara L. Jackson

    When I was a teenager, we lived in a small “subdivision” with a few houses built from the 1950’s thru the 1970’s in Colorado. To the West of these houses was a pasture which had not been developed yet. We had both inside-outside cats and dogs. My parents grew up on farms/ranches they did not think coyotes where danger to any cat or dog who “could take care of itself”. Very rarely we saw coyotes at about dusk and thought this was good because they preyed on mice, rats, etc. whose population needed to be contained by preying species.

    Be reasonable. If you are afraid for your pets keep them inside after dusk. My parents knew what they were talking about because they had grown up in rural areas.

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    and what would she say about bears in New Jersey? There were two that we witnessed: one was in Watchung. a few miles from Newark airport in the 1970s (the police did not believe the report at first) the other was in Vernon in the 1980s. Vernon is in the northwest corner of New Jersey, rural enough for deer hunting and a stretch of the Appalachian trail to go through; there are several ski slopes in town. No body doubted that report of a bear: someone hit it with their truck. wrecked the truck, killed the bear, tied up traffic for hours. When we lived in New Jersey and Connecticut we were warned not to hassle raccoons, which can carry rabies and are not as shy as coyotes. Last year our neighbor (in Kansas) was upset when a stray dog attacked her chickens. New York City has rats and pigeons. Wildlife was here before we arrived and will likely be here after we leave. As with the weather, learn to deal with it!

  9. Avatar

    I’m not concerned about the possibility of a cat being killed by a coyote. I’m more concerned about some resident of Defiance, Ohio being killed by a anvil falling from the roof of a building just after a coyote is spotted on the roof of same building. Have you forgotten about Wile E. Coyote already?

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