North Carolina

Young coyotes ‘wandering’ for new territory, NC biologists say. Cats and dogs beware

Young coyotes are leaving the figurative nest right now, according to biologists in North Carolina.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission said coyote sightings in the state will peak during October and November as the young who were born in early spring go off in search of their own territory.

Just like humans, these adolescents are often looking to put some distance between them and parents.

State biologists said young coyotes and their siblings can travel more than 300 miles before settling down in a new region with a mate.

“During these wanderings, their characteristic yipping, howling and barking often can be heard as they keep track of each other, as well as other coyotes whose territories they are passing through,” the commission said in a news release. “Because of the hollow tone of the howl, two coyotes often sound like a huge group and may seem closer than they actually are.”

Wake and Mecklenburg counties had the highest number of coyote sightings in 2018 with 76 and 71, respectively, according to the release.

But humans shouldn’t be worried, even if a coyote is sighted in the daytime.

“Coyotes rarely attack humans,” agency biologist Falyn Owens said in a news release. “Coyotes are curious, but wary whenever they are near humans.”

They are emboldened when fed by humans, however, “either purposely or unintentionally,” she said.

The wildlife commission recommends keeping trash secured in garbage cans and removing bird seed from the ground as well as fallen fruit from trees.

Cats and small dogs also look like prey to a coyote, biologists warned, adding pet owners should keep them inside, on a leash or fenced in.

If a coyote does get too close, Owens offered some advice.

“Hazing, or standing your ground and scaring the animal off can be a good way to ensure these wild animals develop or maintain a healthy fear of humans,” she said. “You can effectively intimidate a coyote by throwing small objects toward it, making loud noises, or spraying it with a water hose.”

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Hayley is a Real Time reporter at The Charlotte Observer covering breaking news and trending stories in the Carolinas. She also created the Observer’s unofficial bird beat (est. 2015) with a summer full of ornithological-related content, including a story about Barred Owls in love.