Coyote Population Begins To Cause Concern on Mackinac Island
Concerns for public safety are increasing on Mackinac Island following the shooting of a coyote last month by state park staff, and reports now circulating that some residents are feeding the animals while others are hunting them. Mayor Margaret Doud asked the Mackinac Island City Council to set aside its meeting agenda Wednesday, October 11, to discuss the issue with more than 20 people in the audience, including Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Phil Porter and Mackinac County Animal Control Officer Wendy Frosland.
Residents are concerned about how the coyote population will integrate into the small island community, with its limited land area and food supply. In May, some Island residents were concerned about the increasing rabbit population, and now citizens report the rabbit numbers are declining because of the coyotes. Some cats in the Harrisonville area also have disappeared.
Mackinac Island coyotes, unlike those on the mainland, are limited in their range.
"We have a very healthy coyote population on the Island that is going to do nothing but increase and grow in the future," said Mr. Porter. "We definitely have a public safety issue here. It's not just along the road, along the trails; we have coyotes running across the airport. We've got coyotes running in front of airplanes as they land."
Alderman Jason St. Onge recounted a flight he recently was on that could not land at the island airport because a coyote was in the middle of the runway.
A l d e r m a n Armand Porter said he had heard that people are feeding the animals.
Annex resident Lorna Straus said coyotes in the Annex area are not fearful of people, but stand on the roadside and watch passersby.
Mrs. Frosland said she had received approximately 100 calls regarding the coyote issue.
Island resident Sandy Arnold said she had been told three coyotes had been killed and that dogs had been attacked by two coyotes near the landfill area and one dog had been taken to a veterinarian.
"If three have been shot so far, then I guess people are taking it on their own," she said. "I, for one, can spend three or four hours in the woods a day and I am not comfortable walking on the Island anymore."
Mrs. Frosland said that animals attacked by coyotes need to be quarantined for 10 days to watch for rabies.
Hunting is prohibited anywhere on Mackinac Island.
Mr. Porter said that he, park staff, and Mrs. Frosland were meeting with a wildlife biologist from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan for the Island. Alderman Mike Hart suggested that Police Chief Bill Lenaghan also attend the meeting.
Five years ago there were no coyotes on the Island, said Mr. Porter, who now estimates there are between six and 10 of the animals. The coyotes made their way to the Island during winters over the ice bridge, he surmised.
Following the discussion, Council returned to its planned agenda and placed on file communication from the Department of Environmental Quality regarding a permit request from the Mackinac Island State Park. The park wants to dredge both sides of the Visitor Center dock and to place spring pilings on the east side of the dock to accommodate a longer landing craft. The park has sought state funding to replace its 54-year-old surplus landing craft that is 56 feet long with a new vessel that is 74 feet long.
Council approved a street and sidewalk cut permit for Victor Callewaert to install water and sewer lines at his new Main Street building. Larry Belonga of Belonga Plumbing and Heating in St. Ignace said he hopes to begin the work this fall.
Mr. Belonga also asked for three temporary motor vehicle permits for Mr. Callewaert's Main Street store to remove concrete so foundation work could begin and asked for permission to begin work during the night, but Aldermen Porter and Horn said the work should wait until the end of the tourist season. The permits are valid beginning October 30.
A temporary motor vehicle permit was issued to Barry BeDour to move a lift from Ste. Anne's Church to the John and Penny Barr cottage on the West Bluff to replace a cedar roof on Victorian towers.
Lester Septic of St. Ignace was granted a temporary motor vehicle permit to empty septic tanks on the Island from October 26 through October 29.
Three temporary motor vehicle permits were tabled for Phil and Lee's Homes of Wells to install Gary and Martha Cousino's Forest Bluff home until the foundation is installed and dates for the work are updated. Council did approve three temporary motor vehicle permits for Belonga Excavating for foundation work at the site.
Two temporary motor vehicle permits were approved for two trucks and a temporary trailer permit was approved for a chipper for Grand Hotel for tree trimming beginning November 1.
One motor vehicle permit was given to Maverick Construction of St. Ignace for a dump truck for delivery of sand to Grand Hotel golf courses.
Belonga Plumbing received nine temporary motor vehicle permits, including two permits to remove cement rubble from Little Stone Church on Cadotte Avenue after October 30. One permit was issued to demolish a barn on Andrew Doud's property in Harrisonville after October 30. Approval for a backhoe to dig test holes for Susan Lundgren on land below Stonecliffe Mansion was approved. Two permits were issued for work on extending a water and sewer main at the Richard Coates property on Greenshed Land, where he is converting a storage shed to employee housing. A permit was issued for landscaping work on the Jennifer Wolehtz property at Stonecliffe Manor III. Two permits were issued for utility work at the new Puttkammer home in Hubbard's Annex.
Council also approved a temporary trailer permit to Jeff Dupre to move personal items from his Stonecliffe Manor II home to the Arnold Dock.
An off-Island business license for Thielen Turf Irrigation, Inc. of Mt. Pleasant was approved, pending approval of building inspector Dennis Dombroski.