Coyote sightings proliferate in Mission neighborhood

Coyotes, roaming the wild, open spaces of Mission — yes, Mission, Kan. — have caused a bit of a stir in a neighborhood just north of Shawnee Mission Parkway and a couple blocks west of the soon to be developed Gateway acreage.

This coyote was photographed in the backyard by Rachel Finn.

In the last month, neighbors along 60th Terrace and Rock Creek Lane have seen coyotes in their backyards with some frequency. And now, one home has a litter of coyote pups living under a patio slab. Kris Foral on 60th Terrace has seen coyotes — at least two distinctly different animals — in the backyard almost every night over the last three to four weeks and encountered one sitting on her patio. Other sightings have come from the Gateway to Mohawk Park at 67th and Lamar. But most come in the area closer to the streamway running north of the parkway towards Martway.

Foral’s next door neighbor Melodie White has the pups living in a den along the side of her house. At least two pups and the mother have been seen out at the same time by neighbors. Wildlife biologists say litters often average six.

Down the street, Fiona Beattie has seen one in her yard and says she has notice fewer rabbits in the area. Across from Beattie, Dorothy Schoap witnessed a coyote walking down 60th Terrace one day and says a friend saw them often in the early morning.

The only picture we have discovered was snapped by Rachel Finn in her backyard on Rock Creek Lane. White says she would like to have the pups removed and is concerned about her cat. Foral says she doesn’t “feel safe” and is reluctant to let her dogs out. She says a neighborhood cat has gone missing.

Coyotes are actually fairly common in Johnson County, says Kansas Wildlife Biologist Tim Urban in Shawnee, and have become used to urban settings. They can pose a threat to small dogs and cats, he says, but are not a threat to humans. “There have been no attacks on people or kids to my knowledge.”

But they are smart and hard to trap. They also have plenty of habitat in this area. His advice: don’t leave pet food outside, don’t feed them, don’t approach them, and don’t let them get comfortable around people (i.e. scare them). No public agency offers removal, which reports say coyotes don’t survive well. The city of Mission has received calls and is trying to gather information on options and get it to the neighborhood.

The coyote den where pups have been born was dug out under a cement patio slab next to the house.

“They are a lot more common than people realize. We walk by them everyday,” a biologist told us. And they can den in any cavity like a brush pile or log (or patio slab). A study in Chicago revealed coyotes in virtually every neighborhood.

The coming 17-acre Gateway development may push out any in residence there, but they won’t move far, biologists say, so another option is to just co-exist with them because they are probably here to stay.

By the way, through the serendipity of auto-correct spelling, Finn’s pictured coyote has become known as “Otis” – male or female, Dorothy Schoap tells us.