Coyote sightings in Roswell cause stir among residents

Coyote trapper Tim Smith, hired by Sandy Springs residents, caught three coyotes in 10 days. The largest was caught Sunday, June 5, 2016.

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Roswell city officials and wildlife experts are encouraging residents not to panic, but to practice safe measures, following recent reports of coyote sightings in some neighborhoods.

The reports originated from residents part of a private online neighborhood forum called Nextdoor. Residents from several Nextdoor neighborhood groups in Roswell said they have spotted coyotes in wooden areas near Willeo Creek, Hunter Hill Drive and in the Pine Grove Estates subdivision, which includes Tangletree Drive.

Residents warned other residents about protecting their small pets and children who play outside.

Chris Mowry — an animal ecologist at Berry College who specializes in coyote biology — coordinates the Atlanta Coyote Project , studying their behaviors and exact sightings in the metro area.

Coyotes have a strong presence in metro Atlanta, and throughout Georgia, Mowry said. Roswell’s proximity to the Chattahoochee River and other tributaries and greenspaces produce high rates of coyote sightings. The animals are likely to migrate if something disturbs their natural habitat, he said.

“These (coyotes) aren’t just out on the prowl,” Mowry said. “This is a fairly normal situation … there’s no need to be overly alarmed.”

Urban coyotes often adjust their daily travel patterns to avoid humans, according to the Humane Society. In urban areas, this  means coyotes roam mostly at night and in the early morning hours.

City officials said this is not the first — and likely not the last time — a coyote is found in Roswell.

“Unfortunately, the urban coyotes are here to stay,” city communication coordinator Karen Zitomer said. “Even if you move one group, another one will come in.”

The city has a webpage dedicated to helping residents coexist with coyotes, and it lists steps that homeowners can take to curb one-on-one conflicts.

In July, a Roswell resident was bitten by a coyote in Leita Thompson Memorial Park. The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness reported that the coyote tested positive for rabies, and was later euthanized.

Roswell resident Monica Halka, who lives in the Habersham Woods subdivision, said she does not mind the coyotes. In fact, she loves the sound of their howls on late nights.

"Occasionally, someone will complain. People have these ideas they’re going to run into a pack of them,” Halka said.

Research from The Human Society shows coyote attacks on humans seldom occur, and studies show coyotes usually become aggressive when humans begin feeding them.

TIPS FOR COEXISTING WITH COYOTES:
  • Do not feed coyotes.
  • Eliminate possible food sources, including water and garbage
  • Feed pets indoors and keep their food locked away
  • Remove bushes and shrubbery that provide hiding cover for coyotes or prey
  • Keep children inside if coyotes have been spotted in the area
  • Do not allow pets to roam and keep them inside at nighttime
Source: The Humane Society and the City of Roswell
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