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April 20, 2009 / V A Nichols

Urban Coyotes

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Every few weeks I hear about citizens, in some part of the greater Birmingham area, concerned about or sighting coyotes.

Most urban citizen’s reactions to seeing a coyote in their yard or neighborhood is first shock, then fear, and then a desire to remove the animals by any means.

Coyotes have been in Alabama, and the Birmingham area, for many decades.  They are not often seen because they are most active at dawn and dusk, and then into the night.

Coyotes do not usually come into residential areas unless they have been displaced, and are searching for food.

Birmingham is blessed with much natural flora and fauna.  Well manicured lawns and neighborhoods bring joy to their residents.  An abundance of trees and shrubs compliment houses, and provide food sources and living spaces for small animals. Small animals can be a food source for coyotes.

Many local municipalities have ordinances which allow for the killing of coyotes, when an individual person feels they are threatened.  And coyotes have been killed. This is not a long term solution.  One less coyote only creates a vacuum ripe for the filling by another.

An alternative approach can be learning to live with these very adaptive creatures. They play an integral part in balancing the larger ecosystem.

 There are many easy actions which can reduce conflicts between humans and coyotes. A good resource of information can be found on the Higher Ground-Animal Advocacy web site:  http://www.higherground-animaladvocacy.org/URBAN COYOTES.htm

Another good source of information is author Hope Ryden’s book, ‘God’s Dog:  The North American Coyote.’  Hope spent two years camping in the West,  observing and photographing coyotes.

Coyotes just want to live their lives, raise their young, have enough to eat, and have shelter from the elements. Sound familiar?

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