As police and wildlife officials continue to investigate bear sightings in Burlington and Bucks Counties, residents in another local county are concerned about a much smaller but still dangerous animal.
Several coyote sightings have been reported in Montgomery County within the past few weeks. Police say residents have spotted the animals in backyards as well as popular running and walking trails throughout the county. Those residents include the Merkle family of Blue Bell who say they first spotted the animals right behind their house a few weeks ago.
“We called police three times,” said Terry Merkle. “Each time they came the mother ran away. They did try to fire shots at them and try to hit their mother.”
The Merkle family thought the coyotes were gone for good. That was until Memorial Day weekend when they were getting ready for dinner. Suddenly they saw an entire family of coyotes in the woods behind their house.
“They were playing over by the log, messing with each other and jumping around,” said Ariene Merkle. “It was kind of cute actually.”
Since then, the coyotes have stuck around.
“The puppies are just lying at the base of a tree,” said Terry.
While Terry and his family are doing their best to avoid the backwoods, they did want to see the faces of their new “neighbors.” Merkle snapped a photo of one of the coyote pups Sunday night.
“We can hear them at night,” said Ariene. “It’s so loud!”
“It sounds like a dying child,” said her sister Taylor.
Terry believes the younger coyotes are being taught to hunt. He also thinks their hunting trips typically take place after midnight.
“It just sounds like a wild dog pack attacking somebody or something,” he said. “Then you’ll hear this loud pitch squeal which is probably the kill when they get their prey.”
While the coyotes haven’t attacked the Merkle family, police say other residents have reported being charged at by the animals. Officials, who say mother coyotes are extremely protective of their children, warn all residents to stay away from the animals and to call police immediately if they spot them. They are also urging residents to keep small pets indoors and to clean up all pet foods inside.