Coyote sightings in Mobile neighborhoods linked to missing pets - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Coyote sightings in Mobile neighborhoods linked to missing pets

A coyote was recorded by camera in a Mobile residential neighborhood. (Photos: City of Mobile) A coyote was recorded by camera in a Mobile residential neighborhood. (Photos: City of Mobile)
MOBILE, AL (WALA) -

Sightings of coyotes in Mobile residential neighborhoods have been linked to a spate of missing pets, creating a public safety concern among residents, according to city officials.

Residents in Llainfair and Yester Oaks neighborhoods have sighted coyotes on their property, states a news release from the city. In recent months, residents’ game cameras have shown coyotes roaming the streets, backyards and ditches.

More than two dozen pets are missing, according to the news release.
 
Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food, according to wildlife experts, but will take advantage of whatever is available such as garbage, pet food and domestic animals.
 
“Some of these urban coyotes have lost their natural fear of humans and are increasingly entering into the backyards of residents and killing small family pets, such as dogs and cats,” said James Barber, director of public safety for the city of Mobile.

The news release provides an account of how resident Katie McCarter heard a loud squeal from her cat one night while McCarter was on her back porch. She jumped over the fence in her back yard to attempt to save her cat. The next day she found evidence of the attack -- her cat's fur.


McCarter has two other cats that have been missing since June. She said the cats had lived outside in her backyard since 2011, and one was part of the family for nine years and the other for 12 years. 
 
“I am terrified for my children,” McCarter said. “My 10-month-old is smaller than a baby deer. That’s my concern now is should I be letting my children play in my backyard.”
 
Although attacks on humans are relatively rare, the possibility of an attack on a child or an adult who may come into contact with a coyote cannot be ignored, said Barber. Residents are urged to keep a comfortable distance away from coyotes, as they are known carriers of rabies. 
 
Danny Sirmon lost his first pet 11 months ago and his last pet the first of September, according to the news release. Both were cats. 
 
“Someone is always reporting coyotes or missing cats weekly,” Sirmon said for the news release. “We got neighbors with cameras, and I have cameras up, so we know they are moving throughout the neighborhood at will at night.”
 
Another neighbor, Daniel Spence, had a close encounter with a coyote. The news release state it was around midnight. He looked out his window and saw two coyotes in the cul-de-sac attacking the cat that had for years lived behind his house. He was able to run off the coyotes with a bat to save the cat, but it was later found dead in a flowerbed due to its injuries. 
 
According to studies, the coyotes’ range has expanded drastically over the past decade. With litters up to 19 pups coyote numbers increase every year. And, because they have to feed themselves and their pups, coyotes are effective hunters. 
 
“Find a way to keep your pet inside at night, no matter how much they complain, to save them,” Sirmon advised. 
 
Here are some recommended guidelines for residents to discourage coyotes from entering their property.
 
•           Secure pet food (including bird feeders). If you must feed your pet outside, bring dishes in when your pet has eaten.
•           Keep small pets indoors or in an enclosure at night.
•           Store trash in covered, tightly-closed heavy-duty containers and place the container where it cannot be easily tipped over.
 
To report sightings of a coyote, call the City of Mobile Animal Shelter at 251-208-2800. A private wildlife control and trapping company will respond, the city says. Managing and controlling the nuisance of coyotes is a top public safety priority, according to the city.

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