The has a warning for residents on its website of coyotes in the area, and according to City Administrator Laura Paul-Cone, that warning is because Mayor Jim Hinkle has himself seen coyotes on his property in the city.
“He saw them in his yard and we’ve been told if you see more than one then it’s likely there is a family of them somewhere,” Paul-Cone said. “That’s why he wanted to put the warning on the city’s website.”
The warning cautions that residents be on the lookout for fairly large coyotes that have been seen around the city, specifically on the Grayson Parkway and Wilshire Drive area. Residents are advised to take precautions to keep pets safe and, if they wish, to call Gwinnett County Animal Control at 770-339-3200.
Residents in the Loganville area have also reported sightings of coyotes from time to time. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division, does have advice for residents in the event of coyote sightings, but officials say there is little need for fear. By nature, coyotes are timid and shy and are more likely to steer clear of potential danger, posing little threat to humans. The main threat is to small domestic animals, small livestock or poultry. Wildlife expert say that, contrary to popular belief, coyotes do not hunt in packs but rather are primarily solitary hunters. Despite these characteristics, problems sometimes do occur as these predators become increasingly tolerant of human interactions.
Prevention is the best defense against nuisance coyotes. Small house pets (especially cats), young or small livestock and poultry are most vulnerable and more likely to become victims of a coyote. Officials offer the following advice if a coyote is suspected of frequenting an area where domestic animals might be roaming outside.
• Take pets indoors during the night as this is the coyote’s primary hunting time.
• If the pet must be kept outside, put up fencing to discourage coyotes.
• Small livestock or poultry should be kept in an enclosed or sheltered area. Coyotes rarely bother larger livestock although they often are blamed for such nuisance instances. It should be noted that dogs, rather than coyotes, are notorious for harassing and attacking livestock.
According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, coyotes resemble a small dog in appearance. The distinguishing characteristics of a coyote include pointy ears and snout, mottled color fur pattern ranging from black to reddish-blonde and a bushy tail. Coyotes have keen eyesight and an acute sense of smell. They communicate by means of high-pitched cries, shrieks or yips that can sometimes be heard late in the evening. They also communicate by growling, barking or whining.
Breeding usually occurs in late winter to early spring with five to seven pups born in excavated dens or brush piles. Pups are weaned at about five to eight weeks of age. Socially, these creatures may mate for life and commonly can be found living within a small community (or pack) of related individuals. Habitat preferences include wooded forests bordered by fields and brushy areas which enables them to den and hunt for small mammals. However, due to their ability to adapt, coyotes do not have many problems when exposed to habitat alterations. Coyotes have even been found frequenting urban areas in search of garbage, rodents and other easily found meals. For these reasons, coyotes are thriving in Georgia and not, officials say, as a result of a Department of Natural Resources stocking program.
If mated with dogs, a female coyote can produce a coyote/dog hybrid called a “coydog.” A recent study by a research team led by University of California at Los Angeles concluded that the eastern coyote is actually a genetic hybrid that includes wolves as well as dogs. The study, published in the Genone Research journal and reported by the Associated Press last month, also found that wolves in eastern parts of the U.S. genetically have large percentages of coyote in them. It is thought that large-scale hunting has forced the breeds to seek mates outside of their own kind.