Coyote problem returns

Published 8:30 am Thursday, October 19, 2023

Lunenburg County has a coyote problem. That part isn’t new. But given that some are starting to show up in more neighborhoods, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources is asking residents to take some precautions. And of course, don’t put out food for them.

According to Mike Fies, a wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), the coyote population in Lunenburg County and across the southern Piedmont region has been slowly increasing over the past few years. We’re seeing them more now because at this time of year, the younger coyotes depart from their family to find their own territory and mate.

Lunenburg County residents may find coyotes in their neighborhood or by their homes looking for food. The best way to keep them away is to make sure they don’t have a reason to come back. According to the DWR, it’s important not to encourage or even tolerate coyotes because they become bolder and more aggressive the longer they’re allowed to stay.

“They are usually around if they are being fed either intentionally or unintentionally,” said Fies. “The biggest thing is that feeding has to stop.”

If there is an urban sighting it’s best to find what food source they’ve found. It could be food laid out for outdoor pets or stray cats, unsecured trash, compost pile or fallen fruit from trees. They are also attracted to bird feeders, not for the feed but for the rodents and squirrels it attracts.

It’s a good practice to keep these areas clean.

Even though coyotes are nocturnal they are sometimes active during the day. If coyotes are spotted nearby, make sure to keep an eye on any small pets. Keep cats indoors especially and don’t let them roam and supervise dogs when out as much as possible.

“If it’s behaving normally, not acting sick or bold or aggressive, there’s not much that needs to be done,” said Fies. “There’s no reason for concern.”

A TIME TO REPORT

Most coyotes do their best to stay away from humans under normal circumstances. If it is acting afraid or aggressive towards pets or humans, report it to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. They can be scared away by yelling, throwing things and making noise as it’s important to make sure they do not feel welcomed.

Coyotes are labeled a nuisance species and have almost no legal protection meaning they can be hunted and trapped throughout the year. Some counties have a bounty on them that can pay up to $50 to $75 a pop. This is determined on a county level as the DWF does not see the bounty making a huge difference in controlling the population.

If coyotes are spotted in your neighborhood, contact the DWR wildlife conflict helpline at 1-855-571-9003 or find a licensed trapper at dwr.virginia.gov/wildlife/nuisance/trappers.