You could see – and hear – more coyotes in NC this fall. Keep an eye on your pets, officials say.

Capturing a Coyote

Licensed trapper Walter English captures a coyote in Mount Holly, NC.
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Licensed trapper Walter English captures a coyote in Mount Holly, NC.

North Carolinians could expect to see — and hear — more coyotes this fall, according to a recent report from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

Data collected by the commission about coyote-human interactions in 2017 shows that the number of sightings or encounters rise in October and November.

That means people need to keep an eye on small pets and learn strategies to avoid or scare away curious coyotes, the commission said in its report.

Coyotes usually avoid people, Owens said in the report.

“Standing your ground and shouting, waving, or throwing small objects can be an effective way to ensure these wild animals develop and maintain a healthy fear of humans,” the report said.

“Coyote attacks on people are rare,” Owens said. “The highest risk from coyotes in neighborhoods is associated with unsupervised small pets — especially outdoor cats — so we advise people to keep their cats indoors and their dogs, particularly small dogs, on a leash when outside, or in a fenced area.”

People also should remove anything that might attract coyotes, Owens said, including “unsecured garbage, pet food and bird feeders.”

“In the absence of attractants, they will likely still pass through the area, but won’t make themselves at home,” Owens said in the report. “This can send the message to coyotes that they are unwelcome. You can effectively intimidate a coyote by throwing small objects toward it, making loud noises, or spraying it with a water hose.”

Other tips to avoid coyotes, according to the commission, include:

”Use trash and recycling bins that have tight-fitting lids or lids that can be secured;

”Feed pets indoors or remove food when your pet is finished eating outside;

”Use bird feeders that keep seed off the ground and clean the area when birdseed accumulates on the ground;

”Clear brush along the edges of your yard;

”Remove fallen fruit from around fruit trees;

”Educate your neighbors about coyotes and best practices to minimize conflicts with them.”

It makes sense for coyotes to be more active in the fall, experts said.

“In the fall we see young, ‘teenaged’ coyotes leaving their parents’ territory to find a mate and establish a territory of their own,” Falyn Owens, extension wildlife biologist with the commission, said in the report. “Early in their wanderings, young coyotes often travel with their siblings, and their characteristic yipping, howling and barking may be heard as they keep track of each other, and other coyotes whose territories they are passing through.”

Reports included in the commission’s data range from “positive wildlife experiences and sightings to complaints.”

Most of the 2017 reports were from Wake, Mecklenburg and Gaston counties during late fall. Coyotes are common across the state, but those three counties are among the most densely populated “so the chances of someone seeing a coyote are increased,” according to the report.

“Young, dispersing coyotes can travel remarkable distances — upward of 300 miles — before settling into their own territory,” Owens said in the report. “That’s like walking from Asheville to Jacksonville. These young individuals are exploring new ground, so they’re more likely to be noticed by people.”

The top 9 counties for coyote reports in 2017, in order, were: Wake, Mecklenburg, Gaston, New Hanover, Iredell, Forsythe, Cumberland, Orange and Brunswick.

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