‘They’re following people in our neighborhoods’: Millcreek sees uptick in coyote sightings
Sep 20, 2023, 6:30 PM | Updated: Sep 21, 2023, 7:35 am
MILLCREEK — Coyotes are popping up more often in more Salt Lake neighborhoods.
Millcreek is the latest city to report more coyote encounters. In a newsletter sent out to residents, the city said there’s been an uptick in sightings.
“We’ve had a number of reports here to the city,” Mayor Jeff Silvestrini said. “I actually met with some constituents who are concerned about coyotes following them in our neighborhoods and reports of coyote killings of pets.”
Silvestrini said one woman he met with had a cat killed by a coyote.
He said the neighborhoods where the most frequent sightings have been reported are those south of Parley’s Historic Nature Park, along Salt Lake County Country Club, Parleys Canyon, and in the foothills of the city.
“Coyotes are an element of nature, they’re everywhere,” he said.
While coyotes are not strangers to Millcreek, Silvestrini said the city doesn’t have a lot of experience controlling the population.
“Our animal services is not used to dealing with them,” he said. “We have a bounty system in Utah, but that doesn’t really work in an urban environment where you shouldn’t be discharging firearms.”
Silvestrini said some constituents have said they want to take matters into their own hands and shoot the coyotes on sight, but that’s not an option in Millcreek.
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will pay hunters up to $50 for a documented kill in areas where it’s permitted, through its state predator control program.
Because coyotes aren’t protected wildlife, DWR does not have management authority over them.
Silvestrini said conversations about control methods are ongoing.
“What that might look like is darting them with tranquilizer and then relocating them,” he said. “I’m not sure what would be done with them. They’re not a pest that you want to unleash someplace else.”
He said residents will be informed of solutions the city comes up with.
“Votes are expensive and usually the way things get on the ballot is by some type of petition for a referendum or some kind of initiative, so I don’t know that we would handle it with a vote, but certainly, before we implemented any drastic policy change, we would want to have lots of public input,” Silvestrini said.
In the meantime, he encourages residents who encounter a coyote to yell, throw rocks, stomp, make themselves appear as big as possible, and never turn their back on the animal. According to the city’s newsletter, anyone walking with a smaller dog should pick them up and hold them to their chest.
“If we use our superpower of looking big and scaring them off, that might discourage some of them from having interactions with humans or our pets,” Silvestrini said.