CANTON (WWJ) – Authorities are warning area pet owners after a small dog was killed by a coyote in a Canton backyard.

Canton police say a resident reported he let his two Bichon Frise dogs out at his home, in the area of Saltz and Beck Road just after 5 a.m. last Friday, and one of them was attacked.

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The dog has since died of its injuries.

Police say coyote sightings have become prevalent across metro Detroit fover the last several years, and unfortunately similar attacks to family dogs have recently been reported in Grosse Ile and Shelby Township.

According to Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, coyotes have migrated into urban and suburban areas throughout the state. Coyotes are most likely to be spotted during their breeding period, which occurs in Michigan from mid-January into March. Coyotes are active day and night, however peak activity usually occurs at sunrise and sunset.

Coyotes can be difficult to distinguish from a medium-sized German shepherd dog from a distance. The size and weight of coyotes are commonly overestimated because of their long fur masking a bone structure that is slightly smaller than most domestic dogs, according to the DNR. When running, coyotes carry their tail below the level of their backs.

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In urban areas coyotes are attracted to garbage, garden vegetables and pet foods left out. Coyotes are opportunistic, police say, and will prey on unattended small dogs and cats — but are afraid of, and rarely attack, humans.

Police offer the following tips to minimize a potential conflict with a coyote:

  • Never approach or touch a coyote
  • Never intentionally feed a coyote
  • Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet food
  • Put garbage out the morning of pick-up
  • Clear out wood and brush piles; they are a habitat for mice and may attract coyotes
  • Do not allow pets to roam free when coyotes are present—consider keeping pets indoors or accompany them outside, especially from dusk until dawn

Police added, however, that because we share the community with wild animals, a coyote sighting should not automatically be considered a cause for concern.

“If residents feel they are in danger of a coyote, or if they observe a coyote in obvious
distress, they should contact the police department,” said Special Services Lt. Craig Wilsher, in a statement. “Otherwise, residents are encouraged to follow the tips provided to minimize interaction with wildlife.”

Reports of a coyote in distress or causing a threat can be called in to Public Safety’s non-emergency line at 734-394-5400. Emergency situations should always be called in through 9-1-1.

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Residents with nuisance wildlife issues are advised to call Varmit Police at 734-729-0858 or at Varmit Police is a private wildlife management company servicing Western-Wayne County.