Arbutus residents reported seeing a dead coyote on South Rolling Road near Gun Road in Arbutus on Jan. 4.
Coyotes are a rare sight in Maryland, which, alongside Delaware, was the last state in the continental U.S. to host the species, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
“I had no idea that there were coyotes around here like that,” said Caren Fallon, of Halethorpe, a 33-year resident of the area whose daughter, Carrie, saw the coyote while driving home from work on Jan. 4.
“She thought it was a wolf,” Fallon said, saying car parts were still in the road. “She said it was huge, and definitely dead, and that was it.”
Baltimore County Animal Services picked up the coyote from the area on Friday, county spokeswoman Ellen Kobler said, adding that coyotes are “unusual for the area, but not unheard of.”
“We have coyotes in all 23 counties in Maryland, and have for at least 10 years,” said Harry Spiker, game mammal section leader for the Department of Natural Resources. The first coyote was spotted in Maryland in 1972, he said.
The species is concentrated in western Maryland, he said, and is rare to see the farther east one goes in the county.
Though coyotes have lived in Maryland for some time, Spiker said the Department of Natural Resources only receives a “handful” of nuisance complaints each year.
“They’ve been here for a while, but typically aren’t seen,” he said. “They do a good job of avoiding people.”
Bobcats are another species rare to to this part of Maryland that are occasionally spotted, as are juvenile bears in the spring, Spiker said.
Though coyotes are hit by vehicles “occasionally,” Spiker said it is more likely than usual this time of year because it is the animals’ breeding season. The omnivores are also more likely to be on the move in the winter because their mainstays — small mammals like mice and squirrels — are harder to find in cold weather.
Spiker recommended that someone who encounters a coyote should “give it space,” generating loud noises to make it feel uncomfortable while making sure it has an escape route and is not cornered.
Residents of areas where coyotes have been spotted should avoid putting food out or feeding pets outdoors for a couple of weeks, Spiker said. After that, he said, most coyotes will move on.
“There’s a stigma about them that they move in and kill everything, but they really don’t tend to operate that way,” he said.
Arbutus residents concerned about rats in their neighborhoods, however, may find cause to celebrate in knowing there could be coyotes in the area.
“That is just the right type of critter that they would prey on,” Spiker said.