“This is a public safety issue;” Atlanta neighbors alarmed by wandering coyotes

People who live in a neighborhood near Chastain Park say the coyote population is getting out of control, putting their pets and small children at risk.

“A few mornings ago, I was out taking my daughter to the school bus, and there was just one walking down the street in front of the house,” said resident Rob Pitcher.

Pitcher said he believes a pack of coyotes have dug a den in the woods just a few yards behind his house.

He fears they will attack his small dog.

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“There’s groups of coyotes and they will gather. I have seen them off my back deck. My dog came and met them by the fence, and they were nose to nose. I ran back there and got my dog back. And there was this giant coyote standing next to me. He was not afraid of me,” said Pitcher.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare. But the animals have been known to go after small children and domestic animals.

“You don’t want kids out in the area where coyotes may be during the night. Coyotes do attack dogs, especially small dogs. But we see more cats attacked than we see dogs,” said Nuisance Animal Controller Jason Clark.

Pitcher said he contacted animal control and the Georgia DNR to ask if they could trap and remove the coyotes in his neighborhood.

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He said they basically told him that it’s not their responsibility. The job is usually handled by licensed nuisance animal controllers. But catching a coyote in a residential area is not easy.

“You can use a box trap, but coyotes are smart. They do not normally go into box traps very easily. So, we use a foothold trap. The problem with using a foothold trap is that we are going to have to bait it. And there’s dogs and cats roaming loose so you can easily trap someone’s dog or cat with that trap, and it can cause injury,” said Clark.

And unlike nuisance bears, coyotes cannot be trapped and relocated.

“Coyotes are considered a rabies vector in Georgia. So, whether we are catching a skunk, a fox, racoon, or coyote, those are animals we cannot relocate. We have to euthanize them when they are captured,” said Clark.

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Pitcher said he plans to call his city council representative to find out if there is anything the city could do to address to growing coyote population.

“It does seem like a matter of personal safety when you got coyotes running free and they’re not necessarily afraid of humans.” said Pitcher.

Georgia ranks in the top ten states for its coyote population.

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