Coyotes on the Move in Michigan's Thumb Region

by Lia Biondo, Policy Intern
Photo courtesy of Scott Parr. Photo courtesy of Scott Parr.
The coyotes of Lapeer County have earned recent notoriety among southeast Michigan locals. Last week, they were accused of taking down a horse from the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Mounted Division. A few days later, another coyote-horse attack was reported. Though neither attack was able to be confirmed by DNR officials, the incidences have many Metro Detroiters wondering if their animals could be next.
Through the power of social media, Scott Parr of Brown City, MI was recently thrust into the same limelight as the Lapeer County coyotes when he posted this picture of himself on Facebook last night.
A local news station picked up the picture, and - as it goes with local news stations - the facts became fiction as the story spread across the Metro Detroit area and beyond.
I tracked down Scott for some salt-of-the-Earth truth behind the picture, and to give us his perspective on the coyote population in Michigan’s thumb region.
So, tell me about this picture.
S: “I took that specific coyote on December 23, 2013 with my Ruger M77 Mark II .223. It came out to weigh 52 pounds.
I had put the picture on Facebook the other day, without even thinking about it. That night, the Lapeer County Sheriff’s Department called me and asked for permission to use the picture to raise awareness for the coyote problem in our area. I woke up the next morning, and my Facebook, email and phone were full of people telling me to turn on the news. ABC news had taken the picture and made up a story about it. Then Fox 2 called and wanted an interview. They had recorded my phone call and played it on air, without telling me that was their intention. Other local news stations were calling. NBC wanted to come out and film at the farm.”
Have you had any issues in the past with coyotes getting too close to your livestock?
S: “They can’t come near my cows, as I have them inside during this harsh winter. But, my neighbors have had coyotes chase their bulls. Calving season in the spring is a challenge for many farmers because calves are easy prey. We will have about 450 cows calve this year. Our calves are usually put in a calf hutch, so we don’t have to worry much about the coyotes having easy access to them. But for a farmer with pastured cattle, or other animals, the coyotes can be a problem.”
Some people have doubted the true size of that coyote, saying that you would not be able to lift something that large with one arm. What do you have to say about that?
S: “I’m a farmer!”
What would you like people to know about coyotes in Michigan?
S: “Coyotes don’t just eat grass, berries, and bark. They are a predator, and they will look for easy food. The more coyotes there are, the less food they have. I’ve heard that coyotes have been making their way down into the suburbs from my area; most likely to look for easier prey.
What would you like other hunters to know?
S:  “We need conservation measures. We can’t always rely on ‘circle of life’ tactics, especially for a species that has no natural predators.
I’ve seen a pack take down a full-sized doe last muzzleloader season, as well as chase pheasant across the field. We have a lower small game population in this region. Crop farmers especially have disrupted their habitat. My farm too has started cutting hay earlier in the year to get more cuttings off the land during the growing season.  We are a heavy agricultural community. There are farmers who partner with local hunting cooperatives and plant conservation strips in their field to encourage small game populations and habitat. I think that is a step in the right direction.”
One last question - can you take me coyote hunting?
S: “Yeah! It used to be that seeing a coyote around here was like winning the lottery but just last night, while the NBC crew was filming, one ran across my neighbor’s field. The season runs until April 15th. All you need is your base license.”
Photo courtesy of Scott Parr. Photo courtesy of Scott Parr.
In Michigan, private landowners on private property may hunt coyote out of season without a permit or written permission if the coyote is doing harm, or about to do harm, to the landowner’s property. For all others, there is a hunting season that extends from July 15 – April 15 with no limit and a trapping season that runs from October 15 – March 1. Residents need only a base license to hunt coyote during the established season, but must also have a fur harvester license to trap coyote.
For more information on coyote regulations in Michigan, click here to visit the DNR’s Hunting and Trapping Digest online.

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