L in the Southeast

L in the Southeast
Atlanta, Georgia, United States
November 04
Retired PR Director
I am a retired Public Relations professional who now writes purely for fun and catharsis. I covered most of my memoir-type pieces in the first three years here. Lately I have dabbled in politics, current affairs, pop culture and movie reviews. Life is my muse.


L in the Southeast's Links

MAY 24, 2012 12:33PM

Coyotes in the 'Hood

Rate: 37 Flag


CoyoteA lot goes on in the dark of night, no matter where one happens to live.  Nocturnal animals of countless species wake up, yawn, stretch, and set off to do what it is they do just as soon as the dusk has morphed into darkness.

Most of the midnight predators in my in-town Atlanta neighborhood are of the bipedal type.  They skulk around trendy nightlife venues, waiting for a drunk or clueless suburban visitor to stumble toward her car while talking on the ubiquitous smartphone that petty bipeds like to snatch and sell. Handguns are usually brandished in this process, sort of like a ritual dance seen more often in the avian species.

Some drive around in fin-tailed hoopties, sometimes with the lights off so as not to attract the security patrol with their hunting speeds.  This biped prefers four-wheeled prey, especially Honda Civics and Jeep Cherokees, again to snatch and sell.

And, as was the case a month ago, every now and then one of them will “select a mate” without the consent or cooperation of the biped’s selection and have his way with her right there on the sidewalk.

Most of the time I am unaware of the nightly drama outside my four walls, hearing only the hoo, hoo, hoo of our Eastern Screech Owl neighbors in the backyard.  The rest of the time I might hear the repeat of a handgun in the distance, but decide it was just a car backfiring.  No sense in worrying about something I can’t control, right?

Wednesday morning three or four pet cats in our neighborhood were found mauled and eviscerated.  At the same time, a neighbor reported having watched two vicious dogs roaming the neighborhood, chasing cats; she even got a picture of the scary delinquents.  Case solved. 

In less than two hours animal control had picked up the canine hoodlums and begun the search for their unfortunate owners who were going to be held responsible for their pets’ serial murders.

This morning a neighbor reported that she is 99.9% certain she saw a COYOTE at an intersection two blocks from my house.  At the very same time I was reading that email a news story was on television, discussing the increased population of urban coyotes in Georgia!  What?!?!?!?

This new evidence might be just what the dogs’ defense attorney will need to spring the pooches from custody,  At the very least, the element of reasonable doubt has been introduced. 

I have lived in Atlanta since 1993.  I have seen foxes, opossums, lizards, snakes and roaches big enough to have their own zip codes.  But a coyote?

As it turns out, it is not uncommon for coyotes to turn up in cities.  They are timid by nature and run from humans, so they have changed over time from diurnal to nocturnal to reduce the likelihood of human encounters. 

Neighbors who have outdoor cats who refuse to come in at night are very concerned.

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Coyotes are actually amazing animals. (I saw an excellent program on them once given by a ranger in a national park). They adapt really well to urban settings, eating garbage, outdoor dog food, and anything else they can find. They are excellent scavengers. They definitely eat small outdoor pets (cats, small dogs). They steer clear of humans--they're not very big--about 30ish pounds. They tend to keep the rodent population down. They are excellent at teamwork hunting--they'll work together in pairs or even small packs to outwit their prey, then they share the kills.

When people try to eradicate them, the female coyotes have bigger litters. Biologists don't know how or why, but they just do.

So... I would say... they're not all bad. Keep cats, small dogs, and pet food indoors at night. Secure the trash cans. And enjoy the drop in rodents. They're part of the ecosystem. (We have them in our suburban neighborhood too. I love listening to them howl and yip at night).
Yup. Got a lot of coyotes around here -- so many, they're a nuisance and are hunted. Not sure if there's a bounty.
Wouldn't it be grand if the bipedal predators started getting mauled and eaten by coyotes? Unfortunatly that isn't likely for quite some time yet, but as my grandfather said "With Rabies, anything is possible," referring of course to the sad case of our pet racoon and it's sad end at the hands of grandpa's 12 GA shotgun.
I've seen a few near my neighborhood. The poor critters look like they're emaciated. When we move their natural habitats, it's always gonna come back and bite us.

There've been recent increases in bobcat sightings as well and the concerns are warranted. They do eat smaller animals. Keep your cats, dogs and children supervised or they could become a tasty treat.

We've been plagued with a slew of feral hogs. Hunters get paid big bucks to hunt them down and some of the hunters have the meat processed and given to charitable organizations to feed some of the local food banks hungry poor people.
Sounds like Atlanta has it all, L! I've never seen a coyote, and hope I'd recognize one if I saw it...it seems to look a little foxy and wolfy, both.
been gettin more numerous here in rural ill. for bout ten yrs....i used to ignore them, but lately they've been on main st at night and traveling in larger packs, and mauled a friend and his dog...so when i take the dogs out at nite ,i bring the 'evil' pistol now.
We have them here, too. I think they're beautiful.
L--We got um here too. I've heard estimates of over 1.000 in Cook County. A few months ago I stood on my front porch and watched one run in circles around the block. There is a family of them living in Graceland cemetery. Wild!
froggy: Thanks for that great information. I did do some research about them before I wrote the post, so I am not afraid. Since I posted this, others in the neighborhood have said they’ve seen coyotes in the same general area for a couple of years now. It coincides with the addition of exotic chickens in the yard of the neighbor two houses from the corner they he was spotted. Makes all kinds of sense to me.

Boanerges1: Oh Lord, don’t let the word get out if there is a bounty. The outlaws around here will start shooting them instead of stealing the cell phones out of the hands of pedestrians!

Doug: It’s so great to see you here! Are you saying your pet raccoon got rabies???

Belinda T.: Aren’t feral hogs dangerous?
I think it is a beautiful creature even though bad for cats. When we were living in Lago Vista I swear coyotes got this lame black cat who I used to feed. He just quit coming by my front porch one day.
The other "coyotes"? Not so beautiful, and I wouldn't miss them if they became extinct.
clay ball: They are actually canines and will readily mate with dogs, creating coydogs ( I just learned that this morning! :D) Wolves despise them; I don’t know about foxes.

Steel Breeze: According to what I just read this morning, they only attack humans after someone has been feeding them, which gets them comfortable around humans. Was there great injury to your friend and his dog?

Sarah: I think they are, too. I love their eyes.

Chi: Really????? Wow, I have never seen a coyote outside the zoo! They are getting too used to humans because we have destroyed their typical habitats!
Not only has the coyote adepted to city life, but in other ways as well. Fifty years or so ago the coyote was a solidary hunter and did not run in packs but over time, with the encroachment of humans on their territory, they have learned to hunt in packs and have become doubly dangerous. Most nights I can sit on my front porch and listen to a distant pack's yapping and yammering as they prusue some hapless prey. If they get too close all my dogs will set to howling and yammering in answer to their wild cousin's cries.
ccdarling: I fear for the exotic chickens my neighbor down the block keeps. The rooster crows at all times of the day, so any semi-intelligent coyote will know just where to be, come nightfall.
L ~ I'd be more concerned with the flesh-eating bacteria!

Better than the coyotes spilling out of the bars, or ripping off cars, as you say...
I think it's reasonable you'd have coyotes, especially if they came up from Candler Park, all the greenery everywhere, or maybe they're those hoodlum coyotes who walk the tracks...urban smells must be so enticing!
Coqui, I hope this puts an end to your sneaking out of the house at night when you think Ms. L is asleep...
JT: I AM concerned about the flesh-eating bacteria! Reports are coming in from many neighbors about coyote sightings. You're right about them following the tantalizing aromas of garbage. Are you familiar with the Beltline Project? It's a walking/light transit circular swath that will connect all the neighborhoods to Piedmont Park. The coyotes are using it now, before it is completed. :D
Yup. They've been known to carry diseases and have caused many millions of dollars of losses to farmers and their numbers are increasing due to their constant breeding.

I have seen feral hogs attack hunters and their loyal companions, hunting dogs. The feral hogs are stout, and when they feel they're being attacked they'll fight until death. When I was on a camping venture with my aunt and uncle, one circled our site, and when we returned from fishing at a river's bank, it chased me and my aunt through the woods and all the while I recall my aunt screaming her head off with me intow. We got lucky! Uncle Frank showed lifted me into the back of his pickup truck, and within a few minutes after my Aunt Josie finally stopped squawking, I asked, "what happened to the pig, Uncle Frank?" He silently answered, "he went wee, wee, wee, all the way home." ;) Uncle Frank killed the varmint with his bare hands and a buck knife. My hero!
L ....dog wasnt hurt too much,but friend was in hospital for awhile after tryin to defend the dog, which was what they were after,sum kinda little dog, dont know which....be careful.
I have heard of the Beltline Project -- those coyotes must think the humans are so accommodating : )
My goodness. I haven't seen a coyote either. I do smell a skunk once in a while - especially on Tuesday nights when some neighbors put the garbage out for next morning's collection. Those little rascals try to get into the bins and ravage what they can. They may be cute but their odour is unbearable!

we've got them here, too. Hardy. They interbreed with the local dog population, too (well, either that or they come naturally in brindle- not sure which)
Love they way you analogize the four-legged predators and the bipeds and back again, Lezlie. You create an noir atmosphere of perilous beauty here.
David: I would expect to hear and see coyotes and their handiwork on and around Almosta Ranch. I’m a little surprised about them being in cities like Atlanta and Chicago.

Belinda T.: Thank goodness for Uncle Frank!

Steel Breeze: Yikes! My dog is 18 pounds and looks like a marshmallow to most pit bulls we come across. I know I would defend her as if she were my human child – it’s instinctive. I guess I’d better be careful for sure.

Fusun: I agree. I’d rather tangle with a coyote than with a skunk, I think. That is an odor that is so disagreeable, I can actually imagine it!

Julie: Yes, apparently they do readily interbreed with dogs.
Matt: I really like it when you analyze and/or critique my writing. Thank you for that.

I live in an LA suburb with the Santa Monica mountains not far away. We used to get a lot of coyotes in our streets at night, especially on trash night. Out city converted us to wheelie trash cans which the poor guys can't knock over so easily, so they don't come around quite so much, but I can still hear them yipping and howling on moonlit nights. The skunks, opossums and raccoons are still just as plentiful.
I did read a tale in the LA Times of an un-named actor who house-sat for a friend whose toy poodle was in heat, in the Hollywood Hills. He successfully kept the dog from getting out in the street, but a coyote came in over the back fence. He said he could almost visualize the word balloons over each canine's head as they rushed towards each other: above the poodle "Sex!" and above the coyote "Lunch!". Only the coyote got what it wanted.
Coyotes here too, mid-city. I feel for the cats but not the knuckleheads that let them roam and then cry when they get eaten. They are "domesticated" pets. Not supposed to be out on their own. When my Bengal wants to go outside she brings me her leash and harness and we go out to cruise the fence perimeter. True.
Lezlie...Even a big city like L.A. is having problems with roving bands of coyotes. From the East Coast to the West Coast the coyote has become a fixture in almost every major city. One factor in their moving into cities is the fact that in rual areas such as mine, they are more likely to be hunted and killed in the protection of livestock so the coyote has moved more into urban areas where they have learned they are relatively safe from hunters. They really are intellegent creatures and that is what makes them so dangerous when they come in contact with humans.
GeeBee: We already have wheeled trash cans, so at least that won’t be a lure. I have a feeling the neighbor’s exotic chickens are in peril, though. Poor little Hollywood poodle.

aka: That’s exactly what I said to my neighbor. I’m not a cat person (dogs are my preference) but I think it’s crazy to let them roam the way they do. On the other hand, a friend adopted a kitten from Petsmart or somewhere and was never able to keep the cat from escaping into “the wild” every time a door opened. Maybe his parents were feral? :D

David: Sounds like there is a bigger problem brewing if this continues. I also learned that bobcats are on the rise in cities, too. Can’t we all just get along? :D
We've got them in Minneapolis. You'd think the raccoon overpopulation would keep them fat and happy enough to leave the dogs & cats alone.

The only one I've ever seen irl was strolling down an alley in Burbank.

And you can get used to skunk smell. It was part of the background on the farm for some part of the year when I was a kid and when it was faint I rather liked it. Context, I'm sure.
I'd never seen one outside a zoo either until pretty recently. They are very intense. And you capture that here beautifully.
All good reasons not to venture out alone at night. We have them in my medium size town too, although they seem to be staying in the outskirts.
nerd cred: I have noticed a decrease in opossum sightings lately. Maybe the coyotes are dining on them. We don't see too many raccoons around here; lots of them in the mountains, though.
Girlfriend, you are the first person I have ever known who has gotten used to eau de skunk, much less "rather liked it." I guess we humans can get used to just about anything if we have to.

Chi: Thank you! I appreciate that.
@nerd cred - the coyotes won't feed on the raccoons. I was told at an animal refuge that even a bobcat will think twice about trying to snack on those mean little bastards.
jlsathre: If one of your neighbors suddenly decides to raise chickens, all bets are off. They will be there.
I hope for the best for coyotes as well as for you and your nighbors. :) r.
We have the coyotes as well, and last year, I saw a poor hungry looking fox a couple times on my early morning walks. Raccoons paved the way. We have everything they want: barrels of tasty garbage, small soft pets, garages to come in out of the weather. Plus, we took their hood first.
greenheron: Yep. What goes around comes around.
Haven't ever seen wild ones. Wouldn't mind.
We have quite a few in Chicagoland. They are a lot like people. They'll eat almost any damned thing and they are cunning animals who adapt to all kinds of situations.
Lots of spottings around here too.
Kosh: I wouldn’t mind either, as long as he or she isn’t trying to snack on Coqui when I do.

Bob: Hi! It’s good to see you here. The chickens are coming home to roost…so to speak. :D

Linda: Really? Even when I lived in Moraga we never saw or heard of one. We could have used some to help control the mule deer herd.
Coyotes I can deal with. Hoodlums are better used as hood ornaments. Where I live in South Florida, the greatest risk is being run off the road by one of my octogenarian neighbors. Further south, the section of I95 from Ft Lauderdale to Miami has been voted the most dangerous stretch of road in the United States, where the hoodlums race each other weaving in and out of traffic.

I don't go out at night much but when I do I slip my .25 caliber automatic into my back pocket. Better to be safe than sorry.
Here in the west, they are nearly everywhere, Lezlie. Small pets left out during dusky hours are often never seen again. It's sad, but true. Friends lost a beloved pet kitty that way. Tragic. He was too slow-moving, and got partially "et."
But then, we also have cougars and bears, deer, foxes, etc. roaming about in certain areas in some towns.
The nights are wilder now that we've encroached on too much wild territory.
In California we not only have coyotes, but bears and mountain lions and the occasional escaped tiger or alligator, cats and puppies that refuse to come inside at night are referred to as O'deurves.
Sage: My son has been urging me to get a handgun for years. I could see it helping in the unlikely event of a coyote attack, but I am concerned about having the gun taken from me and used ON me. I'm no spring chicken (in my head I am!) and most of the human coyotes are young, strong and nervous. I don't go out at night unless I am with someone else, and even then it is rare.
Kosh: I wouldn’t mind either, as long as he or she isn’t trying to snack on Coqui when I do.

Bob: Hi! It’s good to see you here. The chickens are coming home to roost…so to speak. :D

Linda: Really? Even when I lived in Moraga we never saw or heard of one. We could have used some to help control the mule deer herd.
We have coyotes in our neck of the woods. Fortunately, a good chunk of the county is wooded, so they tend to stay there rather than residential neighborhoods, but they do pop out every once in a while. Good reason to keep your pets indoors.
Had no idea that coyotes are everywhere. If I saw one I'd think I lost my mind. Sounds scary to me. Stay indoors, dear.
Cranky: I'm starting to wonder if I haven't seen one and just thought it was a dog! Everybody seems to know they are around except me. :D

Fernsy: Nah. I don't go out at night, but I'll be darned if I'm going to become a prisoner in my home in the day time.
Wow! I am now going to look over my shoulder when I venture out after dark! lol I could not imagine seeing a coyote in the middle of my street or something. Interesting facts though, I learned something new today about coyotes, thanks to you!
What a great post. From hoopties to coyotes. Good job~
Great post, I love that part about the Bipeds and their fin-tailed hoopties. Coyotes have made their way to Minneapolis and the surrounding urban jungle. One way to make sure people know where their pets are.
rated with love
Ever since our cat got run over by a car when I was a little kid, we've had indoor-only pets. That continued when we moved near Atlanta, especially when we found out about the coyotes, which allegedly did roam our area. I feel sorry for animals whose natural habitat has been invaded by humans and I don't blame them for attacking other animals - it's nature. But I do feel sorry - with all my heart - for pet owners who lose their beloved friend (or friends) because of something like this.