Where’s your cat? SouthPark area alerted to coyotes on the prowl

A coyote growls after being caught in a trap in Mount Holly Saturday, January 19, 2013.
A coyote growls after being caught in a trap in Mount Holly Saturday, January 19, 2013. tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com

SouthPark families are warning each other to be on the look out for coyotes, which have reportedly been spotted roaming boldly in the area this week.

The Madison Park community – between Park Road and South Boulevard – is among the areas with reported sightings. That area borders Park Road Shopping Center.

Web sites serving South Park neighborhoods say some neighbors have chased the animals off their property. Questions are also being raised about whether the animals pose a threat to younger students at nearby Pinewood Elementary Schools.

Neighbors say they have contacted Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Animal Care & Control Department for investigation. However, that agency typically doesn’t deal with wildlife unless there’s a concern involving rabies or reported attacks on humans.

It’s illegal to shoot coyotes in the city, say county officials.

“They are all over Charlotte,” said Melissa Knicely of Mecklenburg County Animal Care & Control. “It’s important to know that people can hire a private trapper. Granted that will only fix the problem for awhile. Eventually another coyote will move in and take over.”

The SouthPark area is increasingly popular with wildlife such as coyote and deer, because of its proximity of creeks and parks that allow the animals to travel freely without detection.

Coyotes can be vicious and have been responsible for killing cats, dogs and pet rabbits.

Charlotte’s urban environments tends to allow coyote’s to live longer and get bigger, because hunters cannot shoot in the city. The animals have diverse diets, including garbage, small rodents, deer and fruits.

Coyotes are only considered a threat to humans in cases where they feel threatened or are protecting young in a den. Mecklenburg County officials say that aggression is frequently directed toward dogs that wander too close. People who feel threatened are advised back slowly away while yelling and waving your arms.

In some cases, throwing rocks or sticks might be an effective deterrent. Do not run. Call 911 only if the coyote is displaying abnormal or aggressive behavior.

- Coyote Safety Tips -

  • Never approach or touch a coyote.
  • Never approach a coyote den.
  • Never feed coyotes or any wild animals directly or indirectly.
  • Store trash in covered, heavy-duty animal-proof containers.
  • Remove thick brush and weeds around homes that may harbor rodents.
  • Do not leave cats and small dogs outside unattended. They could be an easy prey item for a coyote.
  • Fence off outside animal enclosures and include a top.
  • Maintain outdoor storage sheds in a manner that prevents animals from using them for cover.
  • Be a threat: Chase away coyotes when you see them.