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Tryon Creek seminar will answer coyote questions

Park will host a special seminar Sunday dealing with urban howl-boys

One thing that everyone should know about the influx of coyotes into Lake Oswego is this: You had better get used to them.

As Capt. Mike Hammons of the Lake Oswego Police Department said, 'They live here, we live here, we're encroaching on their territory.'

With that in mind, the Friends of Tryon Creek State Park are hosting a seminar on coyotes on Sunday at 2 p.m.

This is a most timely topic since the Lake Oswego/West Linn area has had many sightings of coyotes strolling through neighborhoods, reports of howling choruses at night, and sad tales of pets (especially cats) who come up missing.

So how are you going to keep coyotes out in the desert after they've seen Lake Oswego? The answer: You can't.

'Coyotes are adapting to city life,' said Christal Florin, a park ranger at Tryon Park, who will be giving Sunday's program. 'People have developed a lot of areas and taken away their habitat. But with coyotes that has actually created more habitat and food. Coyotes have adapted so much over the past 10 years.

'Coyotes are 'edge' creatures. They eat things in open fields, like garbage, rodents and pets. All things within an urban area. The wolf, the number one predator of coyotes, has been taken away, and coyotes are very adaptable, and they're more and more so over time.'

It's not that efforts have not been made to rid urban areas of coyotes.

'Their population has increased although for years people sought to exterminate them,' Florin said, 'by shooting, poisoning, trapping and brutalizing them. Nothing has worked. Their population increases under stress. They simply make more babies.'

Naturally, encountering a coyote in your neighborhood can be a spooky experience, and it gets spookier the more coyotes you encounter. People do have to be wary of coyotes.

'Coyotes have been seen in the Red Fox area and acting strange,' Florin said. 'Sometimes they get distemper and start acting crazy. They circle around, look confused, get lost and start howling.

'People in this area have to be careful about not attracting more coyotes. Don't leave your pets out. Don't leave food or trash in your carport.

'You don't want to be afraid of them, but you don't want direct contact with them. If you see a coyote in your yard, you want to scare them away.'

Certainly, having coyotes lurking around the area where you live can have its disadvantages. Like fear. But they also perform a great service.

'There's one good reason to have them,' Florin said. 'They're the number one predator for insects and rodents, and we've seen an explosion of rodents this year at the park. There are lots and lots of mice.'

In Lake Oswego, citizens can feel free to contact city officials about coyote sightings (the number for animal control is 503-635-0238). Since a flurry of coyote reports last November, things have calmed down quite a bit, according to Hammons. But that situation could change.

'Sightings increase this time of year because coyotes have their litters in March,' said Alicia Hammerlink, natural resources coordinator for the city of Lake Oswego. 'They're out now looking for food.'

Problems with coyotes can be reported to the Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, which can do coyote removal.

Otherwise, Sunday's park program is an excellent opportunity to become coyote savvy.

'We're going to have tips on co-existing with them,' Florin said. 'Coyotes are here to stay. They're not going anywhere. If anything, we're going to see more of them over time.'

Tryon Creek State Park is located at 11321 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd. A map and directions are available online at www.tryonfriends.org . This program is free to the public.

For more information, call 503-636-4398.