The state Wildlife Resources Commission has approved a new plan to control the coyotes that now roam every North Carolina county.
A key conclusion of the plan approved last Wednesday: trying to reduce coyotes’ numbers, such as by shooting them, has “proven ineffective.” Hunters and trappers killed about 52,000 coyotes in the 2016-17 seasons, but state biologists don’t know how many more are out there.
“There is no silver bullet that will eradicate or permanently reduce free-ranging coyote populations,” the 200-page plan states. “However, there are strategies that can address specific issues and concerns about coyotes that are more effective and cost efficient.”
Most of those strategies rely on non-lethal means, such as taking steps to protect domestic animals and wildlife, such as deer and wild turkeys, that coyotes prey on. Among them: promote a referral service to the state’s 1,200 licensed trappers and to coyote hunters; target individual problem coyotes; and increase public education.
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Coyote sightings have become common in the Charlotte area, with reports of dead or missing pets cropping up.
In February, a Huntersville man shot video of growling coyote – later confirmed to have been rabid – that snapped at the bumper of his car. Later last month, a church pastor in Alexander County who was using an electronic call to lure coyotes was mistaken for a coyote and shot by a neighbor.
A 2014 survey in four urban areas (Raleigh-Durham, Asheville, Charlotte and Greenville) found that Charlotte residents felt the most risk from coyotes. About one of four people surveyed in those cities had seen a coyote, and just 2 percent said they had felt threatened by one. Four percent had had a pet attacked by a coyote.
Coyotes are naturally wary, the plan states, but can be bold in areas where they become used to people. No attacks on people by non-rabid coyotes in North Carolina have been documented.
The commission’s management plan said more coyotes could be killed if legislators gave the wildlife commission expanded authority to regulate the gear, such as advanced trapping equipment, used to catch the animals.
How to avoid coyote problems
▪ The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission offers these tips:
▪ Don’t approach a coyote, and supervise small children when outdoors.
▪ Don’t be intimidated by a coyote. Make noise and let it know that it’s not welcome.
▪ Avoid areas where coyotes have dens or young. Coyotes will defend their pups, especially against domestic dogs.
▪ Contact Animal Control if you encounter an extremely aggressive or sick coyote (stumbling, listless, drooling excessively) that may have rabies or canine distemper.
▪ Keep cats indoors.
▪ Supervise dogs when they’re outdoors, particularly at night.