An increase in economic development is bringing coyotes into local neighborhoods.
“Their habitat is being destroyed,” said William Hooker Jr., a professional wildlife trapper at Hookers Trapping Service in Appling. “You can see all this development going on in Columbia County and adjacent counties.”
In the past, he’s caught coyotes in subdivisions in Richmond and Columbia counties.
Hooker estimates he has captured about three this year.
David Allen, the communications outreach specialist for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said that it doesn’t appear the population is increasing and that the number of calls they receive is typical for this time of year.
Calls typically begin around April but suddenly climb in May, he said.
Although DNR gets calls about coyotes in residential areas, there’s not much for them to do except suggest a wildlife trapper to capture the animals.
Richmond County Animal Services also can’t do much to help.
“We don’t have the equipment to do that with,” said Edward Jefferson, the field manager for Augusta Animal Services.
Coyotes, which resemble small dogs in appearance, feed on small living and dead mammals and vegetation, which is one of the reasons they are sometimes lured to neighborhoods.
Jefferson said feeding a stray cat or even putting out bird feeders can lure coyotes looking for their next meal.
DNR advises that people bring in small pets at nighttime, which is a coyote’s main hunting time. If pets must be kept outdoors, fencing should be used to discourage an attack.
Jefferson said it’s one reason pet owners are advised to stay up to date on rabies vaccinations in case they tussle with coyotes or any other animals.
Hooker said coyotes usually keep themselves hidden and pose little threat to humans. “You could have a den of coyotes in your own neighborhood and never knew they’re there until they get together and start howling,” he said.
Hooker said it’s not only the coyotes that are making more of an appearance in the city. His call volume for all wildlife – squirrels, armadillos and even hogs – has been on the rise recently.