COYOTES IN MY BACKYARD?

       If you hear or see one wild animal in a western movie, chances are it is going to be a coyote.  Indeed, the coyote is synonymous with the western United States, which occupies a wide variety of habitats ranging from scrublands to open grazing lands.

       For a variety  of reasons, during the past century coyotes were released throughout the eastern United States.  As a result, nowadays coyotes can be found in Georgia and every other state east of the Mississippi River.

       This western import has proven to be extremely adaptable to the habitat conditions in its new home.  While most of the coyotes live in forested and farmlands, others have staked out territories in urban and suburban areas.

       As a result, it is indeed possible that coyotes will be spotted  in your backyard.  When I tell people about this possibility, their reaction is typically, “Coyotes in my backyard?  How can I reduce the chances that will never occur?”

       Recently Maureen Murray, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Georgia, recently published the results of a study regarding the movements of urban coyotes in Edmonton, Alberta in The Journal of Wildlife Management.  The researcher’s findings may help us understand why coyotes visit some yards and not others.

       The study suggests coyotes seem to prefer yards that offered plenty of cover such as thick shrubbery.  They also more often frequent yards that were unfenced than those that are fenced.  In addition, the animals seem to be drawn to yards where seed litters the ground beneath bird feeders, berries  collect beneath shrubs and trees, garbage cans are knocked over, and where an open compost pile is located.

       Another interesting finding was during the study the coyotes that were most likely to be seen in yards during the daytime suffered from sarcoptic mange.

       Who would have ever thought coyotes would one day inhabit backyards in the Peach State?

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