Local News

Coyote population steadily rising in N.C.

Posted October 6, 2009 4:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2009 11:32 a.m. EDT

The coyote population has steadily increased over the past decade, with all 100 counties now reporting having the animals.

Although state wildlife officials do not track the specific number of coyotes in the state, they say the number of reported sightings is on the rise in both rural and urban areas.

Ten years ago, the animals were known to be only in the western part of the state.

State biologist Joe Folta says the reasons for the increased sightings have to do with natural territory expansion and the animals being brought illegally from other states to be released.

In Wake County, there have been 17 reported sightings this year near homes in north Raleigh, downtown Raleigh and Raleigh-Durham International Airport, where two were hit last week by planes on a runway.

The animals are also causing problems for farmers, like Tracey Gardner, who says he has lost as many as 20 cattle in one week. He usually loses at least five cattle every year to coyotes.

"When you lose a baby calf and you expect to sell it for $400 to $500, and you lose four or five, you're losing $2,000 to $3,000," he said.

Folta says people should be aware of coyotes but not afraid.

"As far as attacking people, it's rare," he said. "If (people) do see coyotes in their yards, certainly, they do need to be a little concerned, if they have small dogs or cats that they leave outside unattended."

Folta also recommends securing trash cans and grills and cleaning up bird feeders to help keep coyotes out of yards.

Coyotes are not protected animals, meaning hunters can legally trap and kill them, depending on where they live.