Coyote population has some residents worried for their small pets

DECATUR, Ala. - Wildlife experts say coyotes are all over our area, and may be found closer to homes as the temperatures continue to decrease and the animals seek food and warmth.

While Morgan County Animal Control tells us they have not had calls about coyotes yet this year, a neighborhood nuisance has some people in Old Decatur on edge.

One homeowner says coyotes have her on alert, especially when she walks her dogs.

"When it's four o'clock in the afternoon and you see the mother coyote standing in your yard and you see six of her pups come up behind her-- that's seven too many coyotes," said Kathy Taylor.

We caught up with Taylor on her porch as her husband walked their three Imperial Shih Tsu's, Bella, Lacey, and Grace. She said they often walk the dogs together when it's night time as added security for the animals, which the couple thinks of more as children than pets.

"We don't have two-legged children, we have four-legged children!" Taylor joked.

While the coyotes continue to roam her neighborhood, the dogs' safety is a top priority for Taylor.

"If something happened to my dogs, I would have a come-apart with a coyote," she explained. "To me, one coyote is one too many."

She said neighbors communicate through the app, Next Door, and are posting about the sightings. Because of that communication, she believes her neighbors have called Alabama Wildlife Services to lay out traps and is hopeful that this works.

"I won't feel better until I don't see any coyotes," she explained. "I hope and I pray that this does help."

Coyotes are not unique to Morgan County. WHNT News 19 has done stories about coyotes in other neighborhoods over the years, including this one in Florence and this one in Huntsville.

Decatur officials say as a wooded community that borders a wildlife refuge, Decatur residents might experience more contact with coyotes as they scavenge for food in the cooler months.

Decatur Animal Services has provided several tips that you can implement to prevent and reduce coyote interaction.

  • Do not feed any type of wildlife, even stray cats or dogs.
  • Make sure your pets are not roaming freely.
  • Keep trash picked up and disposed of properly. Coyotes scavenge and approach populated areas where garbage is being thrown away regularly.
  • Fence in your gardens, growing food sources, small poultry, and fowl.
  • Deter coyotes by diffusing repelling odors:
    • Moth balls
    • Ammonia
    • Citronella
  • Make sure your porch and yard areas are brightly lit during the evening hours.

You are asked to contact your local Alabama Wildlife Services office in the event of a coyote sighting.

Wildlife experts tell us the coyotes are mostly harmless to people, but they could hunt cats or small dogs.