'It was really gross': Coyotes to blame for mutilated deer carcass found in Akron yard

·5 min read
A male coyote Shilah (shy-luh) calls the Akron Zoo's Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit home.
A male coyote Shilah (shy-luh) calls the Akron Zoo's Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit home.

It looked like a gruesome crime scene.

Akron resident Bill Buehrle peered out the back window Tuesday morning and instead of seeing a tranquil scene to start his day working remotely from his home, he saw a corpse.

It was mangled and body parts were scattered across the yard.

He even found organs on his back patio.

The victim was a Jane doe.

A real doe.

After some sleuthing and sending photos to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, it was determined the deer had a deadly encounter with coyotes.

Bill Buehrle in his Akron backyard, where he recently found a mutilated deer. Authorities believe coyotes were responsible.
Bill Buehrle in his Akron backyard, where he recently found a mutilated deer. Authorities believe coyotes were responsible.

What did the homeowner hear?

Looking back, Buehrle said, he did hear some odd yelping the night before but he dismissed it as dogs in the neighborhood of his McPherson Avenue home off Garman Road, not far from historic Stan Hywet Hall.

News of the discovery soon spread on social media. Some folks expressed fear for the safety of small pets in the area with a murderous pack of coyotes lurking for more prey.

Before residents grab pitchforks and torches and take to the woods to hunt down coyotes, Mike Johnson, chief of conservation for Summit Metro Parks, said everyone should take a deep breath.

It is highly unlikely that the coyotes hunted down and attacked this particular deer.

Coyotes are 'opportunistic' hunters

Coyotes by their nature are "opportunistic" hunters, Johnson said, and a more likely scenario is that this particular deer was injured — probably hit by a car — and died or was near death when a coyote or scout came upon it and called out to others to come for dinner.

The more likely prey for coyotes are mice, rabbits or birds. They tend to shy away from anything bigger than them — and that goes for humans.

Johnson said coyotes are anywhere and everywhere, including residential neighborhoods, particularly those close to parks.

Every metro park in Summit County has a family of coyotes now living in it, Johnson said.

Study shows coyote movements, interactions with humans

About 10 years ago, the Metro Parks, along with the National Park Service and other park districts in northern Ohio, conducted an ambitious study in which they put tracking devices on 200 or so coyotes to monitor their movements and interactions with humans.

The results were surprising.

For one, Johnson said they actually don't roam much at all.

A male and female and their offspring will stake out and defend a territory of about 1,500 acres and hunt there exclusively.

Once the offspring are old enough, the parents send them off to find their own territories.

For those coyotes that call a park home, Johnson said, they go out of their way to stay hidden and away from humans.

During the study, they found coyotes rarely used the trails during the day when humans are around and only venture on the paths at night.

There has never been an instance where a park visitor has been bitten by a coyote in Summit County.

And Johnson said there have been only been a handful of incidents where a dog has had an encounter with a coyote in the parks.

All of these incidences happened when the dogs were off their leashes, which is against the rules, and roaming off the trails, Johnson said.

Why coyotes often stay out of sight from humans

The study found that coyotes who call northern Ohio home have adapted to living in and around humans while staying out of sight.

One of the coyotes that had a tracking device took up residence in a very unlikely place.

Home was right in the middle of the parking lot of a busy shopping center in Fairlawn.

This particular coyote lived in a drain pipe near the retention pond by the Acme and a Starbucks.

Johnson said the coyote lived off mice and other small critters who also called Montrose home.

"They are absolutely trying to avoid us," he said. "It is pretty remarkable."

But that doesn't mean encounters can't still happen.

Johnson said it is never a good idea to let fluffy the cat wander about outside or send out the family pup to roam the countryside.

"In the canine world — big dog will go after little dog," he said.

Experts say mice, rabbits or birds are the likely prey for coyotes, who tend to shy away from anything bigger than them.
Experts say mice, rabbits or birds are the likely prey for coyotes, who tend to shy away from anything bigger than them.

Coyotes are not a protected species, but Johnson said he always advises against having them trapped and removed.

As they old adage goes, the better the devil — in this case coyote — you know than the one you don't.

"Remember, there's another coyote already waiting to take its place," he said.

Coyotes are attraction at the zoo

If you really want to have a close, albeit, safe encounter with a coyote then the best bet is to visit the Akron Zoo.

The zoo is home to Kaliska (kuh-lis-kuh) and Shilah (shy-luh), who arrived in Akron in 2013 when it opened the Mike & Mary Stark Grizzly Ridge exhibit.

Eric Albers, the curator of animal operations, said the pair are the same species of coyotes found in the wild in Akron but slightly smaller in stature because they are from Utah, where coyotes are not quite as large.

While still shy around humans, Albers said, the pair at the zoo are comfortable having guests gander through the glass at them in their large habitat.

"They are probably one of the more active animals here at the zoo," he said.

Buehrle said he's had his fill of encounters with coyotes for now.

And his encountered proved to be costly.

Buehrle said the city offered to take the deer carcass but he would have to first bag it up and place it at the curb.

That would have meant lugging a 200-pound bag from the backyard.

And then there was the whole matter of the bloody organs scattered about the yard.

Buehrle said he instead hired a Tallmadge company that specializes in such unpleasant tasks.

It was $350 that, in his opinion, was well spent.

"I've lived all over the country for my job and I've never seen something like it before," he said. "It was pretty gross."

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Craig Webb, who now wonders if there's a coyote or a racoon calling the hollow fallen tree in his backyard home, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Akron man pays $350 to clean up deer carcass left by coyotes

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