C (Canis latrans)
Coyotes are found in every state of the United States except Hawaii. Historically, they were mostly found on the Great Plains, but their range has greatly expanded over the years. No longer are they confined to the grassy fields and shrubby woodlands as they once were. Today, coyotes have adapted to living in suburbs and are occasionally found in large cities. As their populations have exploded, they find themselves in contact with humans all too often. Farmers often complain that coyotes have damaged their crops or attacked livestock. In the suburbs, residents worry that coyotes will attack their children, or pets, or spread rabies or distemper.
It is extremely rare that a coyote, especially a single coyote not traveling in a pack, would attack anything larger than a mole or rabbit. Large alpha-male coyotes have been known to take small pets and young livestock in the dark of night, but attacks on humans of any age or adult sized livestock is virtually unheard of. Nonetheless, coyotes are vectors for disease like rabies, and most people would rather not have coyotes roam where their children play.
There are a few options for minimizing your contact with coyotes. They are dietary opportunists, and are naturally going to loiter about where they can find an easy meal. Typically, they eat small mammals and fruit, but a nice bowl of Alpo on your porch is certainly not out of the question. Their instinct to prey on small mammals would also drive them to hunt in your yard if a domestic cat, small dog, or other small pets are accessible to them during the night. To discourage coyotes from entering your property:
- Secure pet food (including bird feeders).
- Keep small pets indoors or in some kind of enclosure at night.
- Make sure trashcans are inaccessible.
- Keep the BBQ grill clean.
- NEVER feed a coyote
Coyotes pose no direct threat to humans, but their presence can be detrimental for farmers, ranchers, and wildlife like quail and wild turkeythat build their nests on the ground. When coyote damage becomes a problem that cannot be managed preventatively, they must be exterminated. Relocation is not an option, as this only serves to move a nuisance from one area to another. In Alabama, there is no closed trapping season for coyotes on private land if you have the landowner’s permission and the trapping is not for commercial purposes. The laws for trapping are written in the Code of Alabama 1975, Sections 9-2-7 and 9-2-8 and are set by the Commissioner of Conservation and Natural Resources.