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For 20 years, coyote population experiencing steady growth in Western Pa.

Pennsylvania Game Commission - Coyote sighting in the area have become more frequent.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Pennsylvania Game Commission</em></div>Coyote sighting in the area have become more frequent.
Pennsylvania Game Commission - People in the community are becoming more conscious of the fact that coyotes pose a threat to people, pets and livestock locally.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Pennsylvania Game Commission</em></div>People in the community are becoming more conscious of the fact that coyotes pose a threat to people, pets and livestock locally.

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

Coyotes come in all colors — nearly white to all black — and never “waste a meal,” said Tom Fazi of the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

Coyotes also possess powerful jaws and eat the bones of their prey.

“They just crunch them up,” Fazi said.

In western Pennsylvania, the average male coyote weighs 45 to 55 pounds, compared to the average 35- to 40- pound female.

“Its tail is almost always pointing downward,” Fazi said.

Lanky legs, erect ears and an elongated snout also distinguish a coyote.

Fazi described coyotes as a growing population of shy, efficient predators.

“The whole eastern part of the country has seen an increase in coyotes in the last 20 years,” he said.

A coyote's diet ranges from fruit to small mammals.

“They'll eat anything ... They're omnivores,” Fazi said. “They have no natural predators in Pennsylvania.”

But Dan Puhala of Ross, the game commission's local wildlife conservation officer, can connect property owners with trappers and hunters willing to help people rid their homesteads of coyotes.

“If they (property owners) want to get some recreational guys, it's free,” Puhala said. “People ask me all the time for places to trap or hunt.”

It can cost at least $200, however, to hire licensed trappers, such as Tim Giger of Middlesex, Butler County.

“Every situation is different,” Giger said. “I might not be able to help them out.”

Giger uses paw holds and cable restraints to catch coyotes, but such devices cannot safely be used in areas with free-roaming dogs.

“The paw hold is most effective,” Giger said. “To call them (coyotes) in and shoot them is more difficult.”

Coyotes in western Pennsylvania generally roam in small family groups of two to 10 individuals. “They don't have a den were they go,” Fazi said.

To obtain a list of licensed and recreational coyote hunters and trappers, call the Pennsylvania Game Commission at 724-238-9523.

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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