Thursday, April 17, 2008

Co-existing with Coyotes

The distinctive call of the coyote or “song dog” can be heard all across our state - from the more welcoming rural areas of wooded forests and open fields to the less inviting backyards of metro Atlanta neighborhoods. Rapid human population growth across the state coupled with the coyote’s unique ability to adapt and thrive wherever food is available, contributes to today’s increased observation of coyotes in urban settings.

While coyotes closely resemble a small dog in appearance, the distinctive characteristics that set the species apart are upright, pointed ears, a pointed snout, low forehead, a mottled color fur pattern ranging from black to reddish-blonde and a bushy tail that is generally carried straight out below the level of its back.

“Historically, coyotes were most commonly found on the Great Plains of North America. However, their range has expanded from Central America to the Arctic. They are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. In fact, coyotes have adapted quite well to living in suburbs and cities like Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta,” says John Bowers, Assistant Chief of WRD Game Management. “Preventive methods are the best solutions for residents to reduce the potential for human-coyote conflicts.”

Though the coyote’s principal diet typically consists of small rodents and fruit, they are characterized as “opportunistic” and will prey on small domestic animals if given the opportunity. Because of this, small house pets (especially cats), young or small livestock and poultry are vulnerable and susceptible prey. Landowners and homeowners to heed the following precautions to ensure the safety of their animals:
  • Take pets indoors during the night, as this is the coyote’s primary hunting time. (In addition to coyotes, small pets may fall preyto free-roaming dogs and great horned owls.)

  • If the pet must be kept outside, install fencing and motion sensitive flood lights to discourage predators.

  • Small livestock or poultry should be kept in an enclosed orsheltered area. Coyotes rarely bother larger livestock although theyare often blamed for such nuisance instances. (It should be noted that free-roaming dogs,
  • rather than coyotes, are notorious for harassing, damaging or killing livestock.)

  • NEVER, under any circumstances, feed a coyote.

  • Keep items, such as grills, pet food or bird feeders off-limits.

  • Clean and store grills when not in use, keep pet food indoors or feed pets indoors and refill bird feeders infrequently and in small amounts.

  • Make trashcans inaccessible. Keep lids securely fastened or store trashcans in the garage until trash day.
Additional solutions against nuisance coyotes include trapping and/or hunting. Because coyotes are a non-native species in Georgia, there is no closed hunting or trapping season. WRD does NOT offer trapping services, but maintains a list of permitted and licensed trappers across the state. Residents interested in hiring a private trapper can contact the local WRD office or call 770-918-6416 for a referral.

And watch Georgia Outdoors: Urban Wildlife for more information about the kinds of critters you just might spy in your part of town.


mikemizzle912 said...

Just saw my first coyote on the kingsbay navy base in south eastern ga. Didn't realize we had them.

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