Coyote Strategies Discussed at Meeting
About 150 people gathered at the Church of the Epiphany outside Decatur to talk about ways to control the coyote problem.
Three speakers talked about the metro Atlanta coyote problem Tuesday night at the Church of the Epiphany.
Mary A. Paglieri, a consultant with the Little Blue Society in the San Francisco area, a group that specializes in human-animal conflict resolution, said behavior modification is the only way to go.
"They will avoid things that are pretty much new," she said. "If they come into your back yard frequently, you need to modify your habitat. ... You start with the minimum of scare tactics and you escalate."
That could be done through scent, loud noises, shooting paintballs and moving large objects around, she said. Even parking a truck in a path habitually taken by coyotes will make them change their movements, she said.
Eradicating coyotes doesn't help, she said. When coyotes are killed, the reproduction and migration of coyotes increases as does the survivability of coyote pups.
"If you want fewer coyotes, stop killing them," she said.
The killing and trapping of coyotes appeared to be the friction point during the Tuesday night meeting, which was attended by about 150 people.
Some people in the crowd spoke out against that practice, saying it was inhumane. When coyotes are trapped, they must be killed, according to state law,
Chip Elliott, a trapper, said he kills coyotes when they become too familiar with humans. They become "brazen" and venture into yards to eat pet food and sometimes attack cats and small dogs, he said.
"You want them to have that natural human fear," he said.
He said this was a short term solution because other coyotes will move into the area.
When Elliott traps coyotes, he cages them for 72 hours to make sure nobody reports any rabid dogs or cats in the area. He didn't want to say how he euthanizes them.
Like the other speakers, Elliott said humans must make some accommodations because coyotes are here to stay. That means keeping cats and pet food inside if coyotes are around.
"We have to tolerate a certain amount of their presence," he said.
Chris Mowry, head of the biology department at Berry College and a former intown Atlanta resident, provided a factual overview.
He said coyotes lived mostly west of the Mississippi before 1900 but can now be found in every state except Hawaii, including in urban areas.
Coyotes are very adaptable. They expanded their range, for example, because wolves were wiped out and "that created a vacuum," he said.
They're normally seen at dawn and dusk, but when they lose their fear of humans they become more active during daylight hours, he said.
Christy Borsage, whose cat died in a coyote attack, ended the meeting with an appeal for improved record keeping on coyotes.
She said there's little hard information on the coyote population, the number of coyotes killed and whether killing them is doing any good.
"We don't have a system and we desperately need a system," she said.
The Druid Hills Civic Association organized the meeting.