Coyote sightings reported to Mecklenburg County Parks & Recreation spiked in January, reaching their highest levels since 2014, records show.
Nine people reported coyotes last month, including one person in Matthews who wrote that a coyote was in his backyard “eating my dog’s food.”
A Myers Park woman said a large gray coyote “was trotting down the sidewalk,” and another report said a coyote “walked the entire length of the block down the middle of the road.”
The sightings – unconfirmed by Parks and Recreation officials – were volunarily sent to the county.
The county began collecting data on coyote sightings in 2012, after a string of attacks on dogs in south Charlotte, said Chris Matthews, division director of Nature Preserves and Natural Resources.
The data, Matthews said, has helped people realize that coyotes live all across Mecklenburg. The county, however, is not actively tracking the animals or trying to control them, he said.
“We haven’t had any attacks on people,” Matthews said. “It doesn’t appear the population is exploding. They certainly, over the past decade, have increased, but I don’t get the sense they’re continuing to expand.”
Matthews said residents who live along greenways, golf courses and parks will likely see the animals more often, simply because that’s where their food source lives.
At least one nearby town does have coyotes in its crosshairs.
Last month, Tega Cay City Council in York County, S.C. voted to hire a licensed trapper to track and euthanized the dogs.
And video released last week showed a coyote following a Charleston S.C.-area doctor into his office. Minutes later, the doctor flees the office with the coyote following.
A coyote interacting with a human is unusual, Matthews said. That’s why he encourages people to keep their pets on a leash – the presence of a person will often scare the coyote away.
“Most of the time, they will run away,” Matthews said.
There has never been a reported attack on a person in Charlotte, Matthews said. But there have been some 325 unconfirmed sightings since 2014, many in central Charlotte and the city’s southern suburbs.
▪ Residents in and around Selwyn Farms have logged 66 sightings since 2014, more than any other section of the county, data show. This area stretches from East Boulevard to Woodlawn Road and is bordered by South Boulevard to the west and Park Road to the east.
▪ A bit further south, between Quail Hollow Road and Sharon View Road, residents reported 10 sightings, data show.
▪ They also reported 10 around the Mint Hill area. In January, a woman there said she saw two coyotes walk across her front yard, adding “we have been hearing them howling behind my property in the woods for quite some time.”