Cops shoot coyote that was stalking women in park

Walkers call 911 after confronted by sick-looking animal in Port’s Rotary Park

Port Washington's Rotary Park, pictured here at sunrise, is where two women encountered an aggressive, sick-looking coyote at 6 a.m. Tuesday. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

Liz Fischer and Kathy Will were walking through Rotary Park in downtown Port Washington about 6 a.m. Tuesday when they got the shock of their lives.

A coyote crossed their path, then started to follow them. The women decided to walk faster, and the coyote kept pace, Fischer said. They started to run and the animal ran too.

They jumped up on a picnic table, and the coyote began circling it.

Then, the coyote tried to climb up onto the table. When he was unsuccessful, he started gnawing on the bench, Fischer said.

“We were really scared,” she said. “He kept trying to jump up. 

“He looked really skinny, emaciated. He had these crazy eyes. He looked horrible.”

Luckily, the women had a phone with them and called 911. The dispatcher stayed on the line with them, and within minutes three Port officers arrived, Fischer said.

The coyote, she said, headed toward the officers. 

“The coyote did not leave and did not show any fear of people,” Police Captain Mike Davel said. “When it did not leave and actually approached the officers, they shot him.”

Davel said the animal was obviously sick, perhaps with distemper or rabies, as evidenced by his behavior.

“They’re way more afraid of us than we are of them (normally),” he said.

Although residents of the city frequently hear coyotes, they generally aren’t an issue in the city, Davel said, noting this was the first time in his 27 years with the department a coyote has been shot in the city.

Shawn Rossler, a furbearer biologist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, said coyotes are secretive animals that typically travel in the evening or at night.

“The fact this animal was a little more bold isn’t typical,” he said. “If an animal is diseased, they can act strangely.”

This is also the breeding season for coyotes, he said, when the animals are typically more active and defensive of their territory.

Coyotes may also become emboldened if they are being fed and have become acclimated to humans, Rossler said.

While coyotes began as plains animals, they are now common in urban areas such as Milwaukee, Madison and Chicago, he said, noting these areas have the green space and food — small mammals — that coyotes need to survive.

In Wisconsin, he said, they were first seen in rural areas but beginning in the 1970s began expanding into more urban areas.

“Within the last 15, 20 years, we’ve seen an increase in urban areas,” he said.

Although there is no estimate of the number of coyotes in Wisconsin, Rossler said they are found in every county in the state “and they’re doing well.”

Port Washington Mayor Ted Neitzke on Tuesday called for the city to create a wildlife management policy, citing both Tuesday’s incident with the coyote and the increasing number of deer-related accidents in the community.

“Our deer herd is getting larger and more human friendly,” he said. “When there are that many deer, they’re going to attract predators.”

And, he said, with the miles of bike trail and woods in the city, it’s only a matter of time before there’s an incident. 

The city has no management plan in place, but as the herd gets larger the need for one increases, Neitzke said.

Many communities have wildlife management plans that set the preferred numbers of animals and how to deal with them, he said, acknowledging that may mean the city has to harvest some animals.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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