Wauwatosa coyote, turkey trouble; animals trapped, killed

Winter is a more common time of year to see coyotes, and wildlife biologists said the animals are increasingly abundant in urban areas.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the vast majority of the time, coyotes don't cause any issues. However, Wauwatosa recently had to hire a contractor trap and kill five of the animals after a pet was killed.

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Coyotes aren't the only wild animals that have recently been removed from the area. Wild turkeys are often spotted where nature meets city life.

"I’ve seen them hanging out in the grocery store parking lot, sometimes just on my walks chilling in people’s yards," said Martina Spelter while out on a walk in Wauwatosa. "Every once in a while they block traffic."

Three turkeys deemed "aggressive" near local businesses were caught and killed earlier this month.

"I definitely think it’s sad any time the conflict between people and nature causes that situation to arise," Spelter said.

Wauwatosa got a permit from the DNR to remove the turkeys. Health officials say it wasn't feasible to relocate them, so they were processed and given to a local food shelter.

"Euthanizing an animal is a last resort and only done in extreme circumstances.  It is not a decision we make easily or lightly," said Laura Stephens, city health officer, in a statement.

"It’s an unfortunate situation," said Dan Hirchert, state director for USDA Wildlife Services. "We had to resolve the situation when people were starting to get concerned and potentially get hurt."

It happened even after Outpost Natural Foods asked people to stop feeding the birds, putting up signs and handing out brochures.

"Food is often the source of so many conflicts that occur," Hirchert said.

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That goes for all wildlife.

"We see this with coyotes, foxes, turkeys, deer, where when they’re fed by people, they get more used to people, and they lose their fear," said DNR Wildlife Biologist Nathan Holoubek.

A contractor hired by the city trapped and killed five coyotes in the area – prompted by a dog being killed in a coyote attack in the Fisher Woods neighborhood in December. Police said another person in the neighborhood believes a coyote injured a golden retriever in the backyard in January.

"It's almost always pet to coyote conflict. Make sure you're with your pets," Holoubek said.

The DNR said residents can take steps to keep the line between humans and wildlife more clear. 

"The biggest thing really is to make sure people are covering their garbage, not putting out food and watching their pets," said Holoubek.

The coyote traps have since been removed. FOX6 News asked the Holoubek if there is anything special about Wauwatosa that would make issues like this more common. Holoubek said not particularly, and that it is rare for it to get to this point.

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