Several strange coyote sightings have residents of Salix, Iowa, on edge as the city sends out a grim warning via social media.
“COYOTE WARNING: Coyotes have been seen within city limits over the past few days. Keep pets indoors or monitor your pets while they are outside,” the City of Salix posted to their Facebook page on Jan. 13. For a population unaccustomed to wild canines, this comes as a shock.
The northwestern potion of Iowa where Salix resides is chock-full of coyotes, but they typically avoid cities and humans in this area. This no longer seems to be the case. And with urban sightings increasing dramatically this January, Salix wants to ensure pet owners keep their pets and themselves safe.
Unlike larger predators, coyotes rarely, if ever, pose a threat to adult humans. Only one documented fatality of an adult exists, and the circumstances were unique. The canines can and will, however, go after children if they feel inclined. In any area where the species has become urbanized, it is always best to supervise both pets and children while outdoors.
This is becoming increasingly important in Iowa, too. According to the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), coyotes are now the most common wild canine species in Iowa above foxes. We expect them to be more common than wolves in the 21st century, but this is (ironically) exactly what has led to their numbers exploding. Wolves are natural predators of and competition for coyotes and keep their numbers in check. Today, wolves are no longer expected to reside in Iowa. Most either pass through, or are only just beginning to retake this territory. DNR has yet to register a breeding pair in the state.
Coyote Boom in Iowa Due to Lack of Competition
In fact, “Iowa hasn’t been a consistent home for many large predators since the early 1900s,” DNR cites. “But a healthy wolf populations from the Great Lakes Region are expanding their ranges and some were noted in eastern Iowa counties last year. However, there is still no established breeding population of gray wolves in Iowa, meaning they are still uncommon in our state,” they continue.
With little-to-no wolves, bears, or cougars in the entire state, coyotes have no natural predators left. There’s not even competition for prey. These mid-sized canines are big-dog-on-campus as a result, and they’re expanding at a rapid pace.
DNR even believes this lack of competition and plentiful food sources has Iowa’s coyote population at an all-time high. As in, there have never been more coyotes in this area of North America as there are right now. Iowa could use more wolves right about now.
Unfortunately, “At this time, we estimate there to be five or fewer wolves in the entire state of Iowa at any given time. Time will tell if this number trends upwards or not,” DNR says. “Still, the next time you see an Iowa canine you might want to look a little closer – you could be witnessing the return of a majestic Iowa predator population.”
For help identifying both species, see our Wolf or Coyote? Fascinating Video Perfectly Illustrates Size Difference Between Species next.