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Coyotes on the prowl

Coyotes may be depicted as blithering dolts in cartoons and their wailing on the trail was romanticized in “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” but the pesky canines are no laughing matter to property owners or homeowners who have to cope with them.

Bob Matthews, owner of All American Dogs, spoke Jan. 12 to the Pilot Point City Council about how people can mitigate coyotes’ harm.

As growth continues in the area, including around Lake Lewisville and Ray Roberts Lake, feral hogs are becoming more of a challenge to manage, Matthews said. Coyotes present a different challenge.

“We haven’t seen that much more of them because they adapt extraordinarily well to urbanization,” Matthews said.

Because of that capability, coyotes will always be around in urban environments, using spillways and drainage ways as their hideaways, he said.

“That’s why you see them in dusk and dawn in those areas,” he said.

To mitigate coyotes’ impact, residents should divide up the areas where they put lights to deter coyotes because coyotes, in keeping with their predatory pedigree, are risk-averse. Also, people might consider fencing in areas on their property where they have pets or animals.

“If it’s dangerous, they won’t do it,” Matthews said about coyotes’ intentions when they approach a property.

“Because if they [get] hurt, they die, and they understand that, they get that. So, the riskier you can make it for them, the better.”

People can use predatory deterrents, such as blinking lights and streamers, or sprinklers. They can also use chemical deterrents, such as granulated sulfur, around property to ward off animals.

Matthews also recommends hazing, or scaring away, coyotes. If a homeowner walks his or her dog in the early morning when coyotes usually roam, for example, the owner can make loud noises to frighten away the coyote if one is detected nearby.

He explained that the human would try to disrupt their behavior by making the person a risky target.

“After you do it a few times, they’re going to go, ‘That’s a risk, I’m out,’” he said.

Another piece of advice: Never run from a coyote – or a dog for that matter – because you then become prey, Matthew said.

“And you’re not going to outrun a coyote or a dog,” he said.

People ask Matthews whether he can be hired to shoot or trap coyotes.

Yes, he said.

Can doing that cause more harm than good? Yes, he said.

“It’s a balance of nature thing,” he said. “If you knock out the top-tier predator, you’re going to be OK for a little while.”

But then the food supply to be eaten will draw more predators.

“And the ones that come in could be more problematic that the ones you have,” he said.

He said if people found a particular coyote that has hung around and has been hazed and nothing has deterred its presence, then they can contact someone like him who can strategize what to do.

“I have been hired by other cities and whatnot to help mitigate some coyote issues and hogs and other stuff,” he said. “But again, that’s a spot thing, that’s not a permanent solution. The real solution is hazing, the real solution is lighting, and other predator deterrents.”

He said those deterrents are “highly effective,” “last a long time” and won’t harm anything.

Council member Ronald Petty asked whether people can shoot a coyote if they feel threatened by them when walking their dogs. Matthews deferred to the police.

“There is a not blanket answer for the question that’s posed,” Pilot Point police Chief Tim Conner said. “It’s circumstance-driven and each incident has to be weighed upon its own merits.”

Matthews urged caution.

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