CINCINNATI — Wildlife officials say coyotes are continuing to attack pets in southwest Ohio residential areas.
Ohio Division of Wildlife district manager Todd Haines says the coyote population around Cincinnati has grown significantly in the past two decades.
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Cincinnati Park District crew leader Jim Godby says the predators have been spotted in several city neighborhoods recently. Indian Hill Police Chief Chuck Schlie says coyotes have killed three small dogs and four cats in the last year.
Mariemont Mayor Dan Policastro says the village will probably authorize deer hunters to kill coyotes when they see them. Indian Hill already allows hunters to shoot coyotes, and police there and other suburban cities hunt coyotes whenever they receive reports of aggressive behavior.
"I get more and more reported coyote sightings each year," Godby said. "They seem to do very well in the urban areas. They're very adaptable."
Coyotes have been seen in every Hamilton County park.
"Over the last 20 years, they've really spread out," said Jerry Lippert, a naturalist with the Hamilton County Park District.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife has no firm estimate of the state's coyote population.
Coyotes migrated to Ohio from the West. They have thrived because Ohio and bordering states provide abundant food, a good habitat and no natural predators. Their prime food is rodents and small mammals such as red foxes.
"The only things that would kill them are cars and people," Schlie said.
Because coyotes have a natural fear of human beings, they rarely attack people. But cats and small dogs are vulnerable.