HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Huntsville Animal Services has recently been bombarded with a wild concern from residents of the Piedmont area. Residents say they've had an unwelcome guest trotting down their roads.
"Several individuals saw a couple coyotes in a few-day period," said Karen Hill Sheppard, Director of Huntsville Animal Services. Sheppard met with people who live in Piedmont after they made the issue known at a city council meeting.
"According to what I've heard from residents who live in the area, they believe a family or pack is in the area," said Huntsville Councilman Bill Kling. Over the past two weeks, coyote spottings in broad daylight have put the community on alert. So why are they here?
"With all the construction happening on the mountain, it's driving coyotes out and they're coming down into the lower areas of the city," explained Kling. Resources like food, shelter, and a place to raise their young are -- unfortunately -- easy to find in a bustling neighborhood.
"We hear, and talk, and discuss, and have phone calls about coyotes easily, daily," said Sheppard. Animal Services personnel say coyotes have roamed the area for years, despite the fact that Piedmont residents took notice of them two weeks ago. The intersection of L & N and Drake is one of many places where the wild animals have been spotted. Residents are concerned for their children, but the city says that is not where the real danger lies.
"Coyotes do present a threat," said Sheppard, "they present a threat to something that is very special to me, and those are pets." Sheppard says cats and dogs are more likely to be victimized by coyotes than humans. Animal Services personnel say the issue is hard to control.
"I don't know what's going to happen but certainly it's a dangerous situation," said Kling.
In the last 50 years, there have been only two human deaths from a coyote encounter in North America, but the city still encourages residents to avoid keeping bird feed and pet food outdoors to discourage the wild animal visits.