Roy Neal was out hunting groundhogs on his neighbor's property on Dunk Freeland Road in Parkton midday on June 19 when he was surprised by a another animal. A coyote came out of woods into a field of soybeans 200 yards from where Neal was.
"The coyote was in the wrong place and I was in the right place," said Neal, of Parkton, 65, who has hunted since he was a boy. "It took me completely by surprise."
"It was just instinct to shoot it," said Neal, who said he knows coyotes can "go after neighborhood cats and free-range chickens."
Neal, who has a valid hunting license and the $5 fur-bearer permit needed to shoot or trap coyotes, shot the animal with a small caliber rifle.
The owner of the property has taken the carcas to Bob Miller's taxidermy shop in Parkton to be mounted, Neal said.
Harry Spiker, game mammal section leader at Maryland's Department of Natural Resources, said it is unusual to see a coyote in the daytime.
"They usually live under the radar," Spiker said, explaining that the range of coyote's territory is only between 5 and 10 square miles and the animals mostly travel at night. They eat small mammals, including squirrels, mice, rabbits and cats.
He said there have been cases of coyotes attacking humans but never in Maryland. He advised if a person sees a coyote to "Make noise and try and scare it off so it runs away," Neal said. "Don't turn and run because it has the canine instinct to chase whatever's running."
He said most coyotes don't bother farm crops, but some have been known to eat melons.
Spiker said coyotes are found in all counties in Maryland with the biggest populations in Garrett County and western Maryland. However, Spiker said DNR does not keep specific numbers on coyote populations.
An unofficial survey taken among bow-hunters in Baltimore County in the 2010-11 hunting year showed eight coyotes had been spotted, Spiker said.
Coyotes can be trapped or hunted year-round during daylight hours. They can be hunted or trapped at night only from Oct. 15 through March 15. There are no limits on the number of coyotes that can be hunted by an individual.
Neal said he hears coyotes yelp and howl at night, and he thinks he might have seen one a few years ago, but he has never hunted one.
"I never know when I'll see another," Neal said.
Spiker said anyone experiencing problems with coyotes or any wildlife can call the U.S. Department of Agriculture's nuisance animal hot line at 877-463-6497.