KNOXVILLE - Old North Knoxville neighbor, Travis Tillman caught video through his property’s security cameras of coyotes lurking in his driveway.
TWRA says coyotes are adaptable and can survive in urban areas if there is adequate food and shelter. They feed on garbage, pet food, rodents and even small dogs and cats. Coyotes will also use a number of areas as a den for their pups; dens can be storm drains, culverts, under storage sheds, under porches, holes in vacant lots, parks, golf courses, or any dry area.
"If they were born around that area and that's what they know and they learn how to adapt, they thrive in the surroundings that they're given," TWRA officer Clint Smith said.
As the human population increases, it causes a decrease in open farmlands, meaning coyotes natural habitats are disappearing and sightings have become more common.
"They're just living, too. And we've moved them around by how we as people have developed," Smith said.
In addition to urban sprawl, Smith says a decline in fur trapping has let the number of coyotes increase.
"Prices of fur are down. It's just not something people are active in any more. Places where people used to trap are now subdivisions," Smith said.
TWRA says feeding coyotes has also allowed the animals to be accustomed to the sights, sounds and scents of humans.
There are few of options for dealing with coyotes in residential areas. Coyotes are open for hunting year-round, though there are some restrictions. They can also be trapped, but in urban areas, Smith says that can be more hassle than it's worth.
"The trap knows no difference between yours or your neighbors pet or a coyote. It just knows something has stepped in it and it's trying to act," Smith said. "I usually advise against it if they're in a subdivision just because of the possibility of it catching a domestic pet."
According to TWRA, attacks are rare. In recorded history, only 30 coyote attacks on humans have been reported. If a wild coyote bites you, seek medical attention immediately. Notify the state health department as soon as possible.
MORE INFO: http://www.tn.gov/twra/article/urban-coyotes
DEALING WITH URBAN COYOTES
-do not feed coyotes – they will lose their natural fears and may become dangerous
-eliminate water sources – these areas attract coyote’s prey
-do not place trash cans out the night before pick-up – it gives coyotes time to scavenge
-feed pets indoors
-clear brush and weeds from property
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