Fort Mill Times

Be aware of the growing Indian Land coyote population

There have been so many sightings of coyotes in our neighborhood, I thought it was time to do some homework.

I called Joel Hinson, who is in charge of Animal Control for Lancaster County, and he gave me some important information.

Almost no animal in America is more adaptable to changing conditions than the coyote, he said. They can live anywhere. One of the keys to the coyotes’ success is their diet. A true scavenger, the coyote will eat just about anything. They are identified as a killer of sheep, poultry and deer, but they will also eat snakes, foxes, doughnuts (hopefully not the jelly filled), sandwiches, rodents, rabbits, fruits, vegetables, birds, frogs, pet dogs, pet cats, dog and cat food and garbage.

They are known to kill 50 percent of the baby deer population.

Coyotes are active mainly at night, but they do move during the day. One of my neighbors saw one near her barn at 4 p.m. while feeding her horse.

A high reproduction rate and the rapid growth of offspring also aids in the coyotes’ success. They breed in February and March and pups are born 60 days later.

You cannot catch these animals in a typical cage. They are too smart. Maybe a cage the size of a Volkswagen would work though.

Remember that all wild animals are unpredictable and caution is the watchword when they are around.

Here are some steps you can take to reduce the chance of human-coyote conflicts:

1. Do not feed them and eliminate their sources of water.

2. Bird feeders should be positioned so that coyotes cannot get the feed.

3. Secure garbage containers and eliminate garbage odors and do not discard edible garbage on the ground.

4. Feed your pets indoors and store feed where it is inaccessible to wildlife.

5. Do not leave small children unattended outside if coyotes are frequently noticed in the area.

6. Don't allow pets to run unattended. Walk your dog on a leash and accompany your pet outside.

Encounters with coyotes should be treated the same as with any wild animal – simply keep your distance and leave them alone.

Have a comment or column idea for Pat? Email her at pateudy09@carolina.com.

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