The Ecology of Fear, Part IV

Since coyotes do inhabit neighborhoods and other urban environments, humans must learn how best to live with them. In Part I of this series, we looked at the specific coyote “problem” in Iredell County. In Part II, we learned about the natural history of coyotes, and in  Part III we attempted to clear up misconceptions about coyote behavior and ecology. With this post, we will explore recommendations and suggestions on how to live with these predators.

Coyotes can be found living in every county in North Carolina yet the state has no formal coyote management plan. The reasons are pretty simple. It can be time-consuming and expensive to try to implement a removal/management plan. Individual coyotes that are found killing livestock will quickly be replaced by other individuals if they are removed from an area. This paper highlights best practices when it comes to managing potential predators of livestock. Several studies have shown that coyotes are far too resilient for periodic eradication programs. In fact, only a 10% survival rate in offspring must survive and reproduce to maintain most coyote populations. It has been estimated that if 75% of coyotes in any given area are killed each year, it would take 50 years to exterminate the population. Coyotes simply increase productivity, survival, and immigration under removal efforts. Since it does not look as if coyotes will disappear from NC any time soon, it is best for both coyotes and us that we learn how to avoid conflicts.

First of all, seeing a coyote is not a cause for concern. If you see a coyote frequently, then you can take steps to decrease the chances of a conflict. The Urban Coyote Project recommends people follow these six steps to avoid conflicts:

1. Do not feed coyotes
2. Do not let pets run loose or be unattended
3. Do not run from a coyote
4. Repellents or fencing may help
5. Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately
6. Do not create conflict where it does not exist

Following these steps and using common sense when coming into contact with coyotes will benefit both parties. We certainly benefit from having these predators in our areas. Be smart.

*Since their is no coyote management plan in NC, it is extremely hard to estimate population numbers in the state. However, The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission does keep track of the number of harvested coyotes by hunters per year. These numbers could help us understand population dynamics from year to year. These documents can be found here.


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