Coyote sightings, with reports of missing pets, have created a public safety concern. Residents in Llainfair and Yester Oaks neighborhoods have sighted coyotes on their property. In recent months, residents’ game cams have shown coyotes roaming the streets, backyards and ditches. More than two dozen pets are missing.
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.
While sitting on her back porch one night building a mantle on the fireplace, Katie McCarter heard a loud squeal from her cat. She panicked, ran and jumped the fence in her backyard to attempt rescue. She found evidence, her cat’s fur, the next day.
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, explained Director 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, both were cats. He thought losing his pets was an isolated incident until other residents in the neighborhood chat group reported their pets were also missing.
“Someone is always reporting coyotes or missing cats weekly,” Sirmon said. “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. 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 added.
Here are some recommended guidelines for residents to discourage coyotes from entering their property.
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. Managing and controlling the nuisance of coyotes is a top public safety priority.