Orange County Animal Services has released a media advisory about what citizens can do to stay safe and stay smart when it comes to coexisting with wild coyotes in the county and throughout North Carolina.
The Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, says that while advisories about coexisting with coyotes have been issued for several years now, what prompted the latest alert was the recent surge in reports from the Hillsborough area involving missing outside cats and other small pets that are kept outdoors, which Animal Services has connected to the presence of coyotes preying on these pets.
“They are virtually everywhere,” says Marotto, “not only in all 100 counties in North Carolina, but in all of the different areas of Orange County as well.”
He says there has been a rise in coyote presence in more urban areas as well, such as one case earlier this summer in which Animal Services impounded a coyote that was found in an alley on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
Marotto says that the three greatest “attractants” for coyotes to invade areas in which they normally are not found are food, water, and shelter, which he says can come from a number of different sources.
Food sources can come from spills when feeding dogs or wild birds.
Marotto suggests that in order to prevent coyotes from becoming too habituated, or generally comfortable around human populated areas, people need to give the coyotes reasons to stay far away.
“People should haze coyotes if and when there is contact,” says Marotto. “People should make loud noises and do things that make the coyote turn around and go away from us. If we don’t do that, what happens is that coyotes become more and more comfortable or tolerant and habituated, and eventually then we do have some incidents that we really don’t want to have.”
In addition to likely food sources for coyotes coming from loose pet food, Marotto says that local wildlife biologists are certain that some cats and even small dogs have become part of the food chain for coyotes. In order to prevent outdoor pets from being taken by coyotes, Marotto offers a few recommendations as to what pet owners can do when it comes to allowing their beloved pets outdoors.
“One of them is not just leaving your cat or your dog outside, and leaving it outside, because in those circumstances there is not a person present to fend off or haze and deflect any approaches by a coyote,” says Marotto. “In addition to being present with our dogs or cats when they are outside, if there is some consideration of leaving them outside unattended, they must really be in a secure enclosure.”
Citizens are encouraged to contact Orange County Animal Services if they encounter coyotes engaging in threatening behavior or becoming habituated in residential areas, they can access the Coyote Incident Reporting Form here, or call Animal Services at (919) 942-7387.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/orange-county-animal-services-advise-coyote-safety
The change will take effect July 1. Carrboro police captain and future chief of police, Walter Horton, explains that the time seemed right to make the switch.
“We used to have an animal control officer, and we no longer have that officer,” Horton says. “It is something that we felt made sense, since they already cover Chapel Hill.”
Director of Orange County Animal Services, Bob Marotto, says that Carrboro’s previous system of enforcing animal control made it an outlier among the towns in the county.
“I think that there has been an interest in having integrated and coordinated animal services provided by our department for the whole county,” Marotto says.
In the past, Orange County Animal Services had been called to Carrboro in the event of an outstanding animal incident.
Carrboro police and Orange County Animal Services note the multiple reported coyote sightings in Orange County and near Carrboro recently. However, there are note any outstanding issues like that currently.
One incident that Marotto remembers in particular was a family of coyotes in Carrboro near Hogan Farms that had offspring.
“They had become unfearful of people,” Marotto says. “They were closer to people than people were comfortable with.”
Horton says there have even been coyote sightings in the past months.
“Out in the northern areas, up near Sunset Creek and the old 86 area, we have two or three around there,” Horton says. “They’ve been following citizens while they walk their dogs.”
Three reports of bear sightings were made this week, but Marotto says the change is unrelated to the recent sightings in Carrboro.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/orange-county-now-providing-animal-services-in-carrboro