Matt Stevens discusses coyote activity and behavior on Mercer Island at a Nov. 15 virtual public meeting. Zoom screen shot

Matt Stevens discusses coyote activity and behavior on Mercer Island at a Nov. 15 virtual public meeting. Zoom screen shot

Expert reveals his findings on Island coyote activity

Matt Stevens speaks to more than 70 residents at meeting.

With increased coyote sightings on Mercer Island over the past few months, along with reports rolling in from concerned residents, the city contacted expert Matt Stevens to assess coyote activity and behavior on the Island.

In a virtual presentation open to the public on Nov. 15, Stevens — assistant district supervisor and urban coyote coordinator for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services Western District — revealed his findings and insight after he and a coworker spoke with residents and perused entries on social media regarding the urban coyote phenomenon. More than 70 people attended the meeting.

“People are seeing them and hearing them at night and occasionally seeing one cross the road. A cat maybe went missing or people even saw them maybe run across the road with their cat,” said Stevens, adding that a multitude of sightings took place in Luther Burbank Park and Pioneer Park.

Stevens’ top recommendation is for people to bring their pets inside, especially because they know coyotes are present. On the Island, he also found that coyotes are rarely seen, but are heard at night.

Digging into his assessment, he believes there’s at least two — possibly four — coyotes roaming the Island. He added that a coyote — the second fastest land mammal in North America at 40 mph — can cover one end of the Island three times in one evening.

“My formal recommendation to the city was to, until something drastically changes, there’s no threat here to human health and safety,” he said. “Nobody has experienced anything that would lead me to believe that these coyotes are going to attack somebody.”

Through his research, Stevens has found that coyote sightings are unique to the Island and there has been little to no local activity until recently. Presently, the USDA would not be inclined to remove any animals from the Island, said Stevens, adding that if coyote behavior were to escalate, his recommendation to the city could change. He doesn’t know how long the coyotes will stay, and he believes they arrived via the highway.

“We intend to continue to communicate with him for support as the situation continues with the coyotes,” said City Manager Jessi Bon during her report at the Nov. 16 city council meeting. According to Mercer Island Police Department operations commander Mike Seifert at the presentation, the cost of the assessment amounted to $1,100 ($55 an hour for 20 hours).

Other pertinent information that Stevens relayed to residents at the meeting was that coyotes are not common rabies carriers; they charge pets — not people — because they believe them to be intruders; they can be scared away by air horns, paintball guns and whistles; they are attracted to food scraps in compost and fruit and berries dropped from trees; and fallen seeds from bird feeders can attract rodents and in turn bring predators, including coyotes, to the scene.




In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo
As new COVID-19 variant looms, vaccination disparities linger in King County

County data shows gaps among age, geography and race.

Garbage at the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill in Maple Valley. FILE PHOTO
King County and Port of Seattle to collaborate on waste-to-fuel study

The study is aimed at identifying logistics of developing aviation fuel out of municipal garbage.

t
YFS Foundation opens tree lot

The Mercer Island Youth and Family Services (YFS) Foundation is operating its… Continue reading

t
Residents are invited to online Community Climate Kickoff Event

For the Reporter To help tackle climate change locally, and build on… Continue reading

t
Giving thanks to Mercer Island police

A group of Mercer Island residents showed its appreciation for the Mercer… Continue reading

t
Youth with arthritis possesses a light, confidence and fierceness

Emma Christofferson will serve as Youth Honoree at Jingle Bell Run.

file photo
Department of Health announces QR code verification program to prove vaccination status

WA Verify is intended to make vaccine verification simpler and more efficient.

t
Lewis connects with Islanders through cookies

She’s found success at Mercer Island Farmers Market.

Most Read