Coyote shocks family by playing with ball in residential neighborhood
Kathy DeMaria has seen a lot of aggressive soccer played in the back yard of her Port Washington home, but nothing as wild as what she saw Monday morning.
In the middle of her yard off Noridge Trail, a large coyote was chewing on one of her sons’ soccer balls.
“The coyote literally picked the ball up from one of the goals, lay down and started chewing on it,” she said. “It was absolutely unbelievable.”
Living along the Lake Michigan bluff, DeMaria and her family have seen plenty of wildlife in their yard — squirrels, raccoons, deer, even the occasional red fox, but never a coyote.
“This was so amazing that at first I thought it had to be a red fox since we’ve seen a number of them recently,” she said. “But it was way too big to be a fox.”
The coyote, seemly content to gnaw on a soccer ball in the middle of a city yard, stuck around long enough for DeMaria to take several photos and for her 13-year-old son Domenic, who was home from school sick, to get a good look.
“I was taking photos through the window and thought, ‘This is too good to be shooting through glass,’ so I started to open the window,” DeMaria said. “He
heard the latch and was gone.”
Needless to say, the soccer ball has seen better days. “I just had to send a photo to my son’s soccer coach,” DeMaria said. “I told him, ‘I bet you never heard this excuse — a coyote ate my soccer ball.’
“He emailed back, ‘Get a fence. Today a soccer ball, tomorrow a child.’”
Sean Neverman, the Department of Natural Resources conservation warden assigned to Ozaukee County, said a coyote sighting in a local urban area is not surprising, nor is it cause for panic.
“Most of the time, coyotes are much more afraid of us than we should be of them,” he said.
Neverman said he has received several recent reports of coyote sightings in Cedarburg and Mequon.
“We’re seeing more coyotes in the area, and it has a lot to do with development and urban sprawl encroaching on their habitat,” he said. “More homes are being built on large, wooded lots, which is an ideal habitat for the coyote.”
Related to the fox and wolf, the coyote is a smart animal that has proven willing and able to adapt to urban environments and is found in almost every county in the state.
Hardly a picky eater, it hunts animals like rodents, rabbits, ruffed grouse and sometimes deer. It is equally content scavenging.
The coyote is nocturnal, which makes DeMaria’s mid-morning sighting unusual, although the animal’s interest in a soccer ball was hardly normal either.
“I just couldn’t believe it, so later that morning I Googled coyotes and compared it to my photos,” she said. “Sure enough, it was a coyote chewing on our soccer ball. Amazing.”
Image Information: A COYOTE PLAYED with a soccer ball Monday in the Port Washington yard of Kathy DeMaria, who took the top photo. A day later, she and her sons, 13-year-old Domenic (front) and 15-year-old Joseph, checked out the numerous bite marks on the ball, which was in a goal when the coyote found it. Photo by Sam Arendt