MORELAND HILLS, Ohio -- A serious warning has been issued by the Moreland Hills Police Department after a couple of aggressive encounters between citizens and coyotes at the Forest Ridge Preserve.
Police have closed part of trails between the entrance on Chagrin River Road and the Quail Hollow Development. Signs have been posted advising people to “hike at their own risk” and to “keep their dogs on leashes.”
Many people at the park Monday night were unnerved by the warning, but one local ultra-marathoner wasn’t surprised.
Recently, on a different trail not far from the area, he came face to face with a pack of threatening coyotes.
“As my dog and I came up, the howling got louder and we got more nervous,” said Zack Johnson.
He and his running group Outrun frequently run the trails along with his 6-year-old Shepherd-Husky mix dog Sasha, but this night, things got scary.
Johnson said 3 to 4 coyotes surrounded them. He tried to scare them away by yelling and striking a stick on the ground.
When that failed to frighten the coyotes, he and Sasha took off sprinting for the nearest road.
“They followed us for a while on the tree line,” said Johnson. “Once we got to an open area, they stopped and you could just hear the yelping and howling.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife said coyotes generally avoid humans and even their pets unless they feel cornered or they are trying to protect their young, which is what police said is happening here.
They appear to be female coyotes with some pups inside the 2 identified dens.
Dusk and dawn are the two most dangerous times of day when coyotes are most active.
They suggest people give the animals their space for now and once the moms and pups leave the area, the trails will be reopened.
“One coyote’s not an issue, but if there is a pack, you should be certainly cautious and beware. They are far more adept in the wilderness than we are,” said Johnson.