Coyote problems return
Residents fear for safety of pets, children
by Clay Neely
The distinct howl of coyotes can elicit a terrifying feeling – even more so if you’re a pet owner.
For many residents on Redwine Drive off Roscoe Road, the familiar howls of coyotes have returned once again, and they’re not happy.
Since last year, Carol Long and her neighbors have expressed their concern regarding the proximity of the howls. But now, they’re noticing that the howling seems to be even closer.
“It’s very disconcerting,” Long said. “It sounds like an entire pack – roaming back and forth through the woods. As an owner of a small animal, it never really leaves your mind.”
Last year, a cat belonging to one of her neighbors went missing and never returned.
She feels that most of the nearby residents are worried the number of coyotes is multiplying. Long also expressed her frustration with the inability of local officials to offer any kind of assistance.
“I’ve called animal control and even the game warden,” she said. “They told me that because it’s a wild animal, there is nothing they can do about it. They said it’s up to us.”
Coyotes have recently been found in Georgia frequenting urban areas in search of garbage, rodents and other easily found meals. For these reasons, coyotes are thriving in Georgia and their success is not the result of a Department of Natural Resources stocking program, according to information from a state DNR fact sheet that can be viewed online at georgiawildlife.com/node/1391.
By nature, coyotes are timid and shy animals that tend to steer clear of any potential danger and thus pose little threat to humans, according to the DNR. Contrary to popular belief, they do not hunt in packs but rather are primarily solitary hunters, DNR officials note. Despite these characteristics, problems sometimes do occur as these predators become increasingly tolerant of human interactions.
Prevention is the best defense against nuisance coyotes. Small house pets – especially cats – young or small livestock and poultry are vulnerable and susceptible to predation by a coyote. If a coyote is suspected in an area where domestic animals are roaming free, the DNR recommends taking precautions:
• Take pets indoors during the night, as this is the coyote's primary hunting time. • If the pet must be kept outside, put up fencing to discourage coyotes.
• Small livestock or poultry should be kept in an enclosed or sheltered area. Coyotes rarely bother larger livestock although they often are blamed for such instances. It should be noted that dogs, rather than coyotes, are notorious for harassing and attacking livestock, the DNR officials said.
Trapping and/or hunting are also solutions against nuisance coyotes.
Because coyotes are a non-native species in Georgia, there is no closed season for their harvest. Foot-hold or live traps can be used to capture animals. However, coyotes may prove difficult to deceive with traps and hunting may be a better solution, according to the DNR website.
A coyote displaying abnormal behavior and appearing fearless of humans is uncharacteristic and may mean the animal is injured or has fallen victim to a disease, such as rabies, parvovirus or distemper.
As an owner of several outdoor dogs and cats, Long does her best to keep up with their whereabouts but notes that some are prone to bolting into the wooded area the coyotes are suspected of inhabiting.
“The (game) warden tells us that we’re allowed to kill them. But I don’t have the means,” she said. “I only hope that something will change and someone will do something about it.”