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Suburbs learning to keep calm and mind the coyotes

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With coyote sightings on the upswing in the Twin Cities area, more residents are learning about how to live with their four-legged neighbors.

MPR News reports that coyotes on runways at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport this week even delayed air traffic for a time.

But as animal control officers field more calls about coyotes, some find themselves trying to adjust the expectations of those who are calling.

A Roseville police lieutenant tells MPR some residents expect officers to shoot coyotes – leading to the explanation that such a response would only come in response to an immediate threat.

Are they a threat?

Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources says urban coyotes feed mainly on mice and rabbits. While they may occasionally attack a small dog or raid a garbage container, they are naturally fearful of people.

In places where coyotes have attacked humans (that's never been reported in Minnesota), experts believe the animals had been fed by people and lost their fear.

What if I see one?

Animals that might prey on coyotes are generally not found in cities and suburbs, which puts urban coyotes at the top of their food chain, one DNR manager tells MPR.

That might make them feel pretty cocky about themselves. That's where people come in. It's up to us to keep coyotes afraid of humans.

Wildlife experts, including those with The Humane Society, suggest "hazing" coyotes.

That can involve yelling at them, using noisemakers, shining bright lights at them, even spraying them with a garden hose – pretty much anything to make the coyote think you're kind of crazy and there's no telling what you might do next.

That's life in the big city, coyotes.

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