Coyotes spotted In Charlottesville
According to recent reports from concerned residents, there may be a pack of wild coyotes roaming around the streets of downtown Charlottesville.
A local resident named Katie Hartwell, speaking to the local press, reported that she spotted a coyote close to the junction of High Street and Altamont Circle in the early hours of Saturday, February 9th. Although she states she wasn’t able to capture any video footage of the animal, she was confident that she’d correctly identified it as a coyote, and that it didn’t appear to be domesticated. The coyote appeared to be hostile to humans, and concerned a pair of runners so much that they fled for the safety of a nearby house.
One isolated report of a coyote wouldn’t be anything more than a curiosity, but she isn’t the only resident to report a recent sighting. The day before Katie’s sighting, a second unnamed local man also contacted the authorities to say he’d seen a coyote running wild on the streets. Both witnesses were particularly concerned by the appearance of the feral creatures in a residential area full of small children and pets.
A spokesperson for the Charlottesville Police Department has confirmed that the police are aware of the sightings, but didn’t provide any further detail on what action, if any, is being taken to either secure the animals or protect the public.
If the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries are correct in their assessment of the coyote population in the area, such sightings may become more common in the future. The Department says that coyotes have spread into the area slowly, with the first sighting being reported seven years ago, but since then they’ve become more established and numerous. Coyotes have no natural predators and adapt quickly to urban environments, meaning that when a population has been established, it’s difficult to remove them.
The coyotes are a particular problem for local farmers, as they’ve been known to hunt and kill farm animals. That has a financial impact on the livelihood of the farmers, and therefore by extension the wider community. That might be the reasoning that’s persuaded the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to recommend that citizens shoot coyotes on sight, reassuring the public that it’s perfectly legal to do so other than on Sundays.
For residents who either aren’t armed or don’t wish to shoot coyotes, the advice is to calmly get away from them as quickly as possible if you find yourself faced with one or more of them when out on the streets. For those who haven’t encountered a coyote face to face before, they’re best described as looking a little similar to German Shepherd dogs, with slightly longer snouts and legs. The giveaway which tells you that you’re not looking at a regular household canine is the tail, which is thicker and bushier than any dog of the same size.
Because they do look a little like dogs, there’s a risk that children – and some adults – might find them cute, and mistakenly try to pet or interact with them. Experts warn specifically against this, noting that they’re nothing like your family pet, or any of the stuffed toys you grew up with from childhood. Coyotes are wild animals, not fluffy favorites. For the majority of adults, the only times you should engage with animals are when dealing with a pet, enjoying a trip to the zoo or visiting the Fluffy Favourites casino site, where the creatures won’t bite you. The cute and cuddly cast of animals in Fluffy Favourites features many wild animals, including a hippo, an elephant and a lion, but notably not a coyote. Even the slot game’s designers couldn’t make a coyote adorable, and that’s for a good reason. Coyotes are not our friends, and they don’t come with friendly intent. The creatures in the slot game want to help you to win things; coyotes come to take them away.
It should be pointed out that attacks on humans by coyotes are comparatively rare, with only two reported deaths in the United States or Canada, ever. They do however represent a threat to wildlife, and especially house pets. The website WikiHow has published advice on what to do if you come across a coyote, which we’ll summarize for you here.
Firstly, you should avoid leaving food outside your home. That includes birdseed in your garden, and not leaving any pet food in bowls on your land or around your house. As well as that, secure all food waste inside a bin, and tie it shut. Coyotes are scavengers, and will be drawn to the scent of any food left out in the open. If you make it easy for them to find it, they’ll become regular visitors to your property.
Secondly, do not turn your back on a coyote and try to run away. This might feel like the most natural thing to do if you fear attack by a wild animal, but the coyote will likely see it as a sign of weakness or submission, and will be more inclined to chase you. It is very unlikely that you’ll be able to outrun a coyote. If a coyote does approach you, the best thing to do is to look it dead in the eye, adopt a powerful stance making yourself appear as large as possible, and make loud noises. Coyotes recognize and understand that humans are larger than they are, and will be disinclined to start a fight that they don’t believe they’ll be able to win. If your shouting and posing doesn’t work, look for small nearby objects like mud or rocks to throw at them. That should be enough to send a coyote into retreat. Flashing lights have also been shown to be effective in driving the animals away.
Once the coyote has retreated out of view, contact the authorities and let them know when and where you saw it. There may be more coyotes in Charlottesville right now than there used to be, but with diligence and determination, they’ll soon be brought under control.
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