Great Smoky Mountains, Parks, Wildlife

Coyotes in East Tennessee

The Coyote looks like a common house pet, but these animals can be the scourge of the forest. They will kill and eat almost anything they can.

Once found only in the western states, the coyote has moved east, north and south over the last few decades until it is found today in every state in the union except Hawaii.

They are a master predator that have few enemies and are willing to adapt to almost any place and almost any environment.

They are omnivores and will eat almost anything including fruits, berries, and bugs. Their main foods, however,  are small forest animals such as mice, squirrels, grouse, voles, moles, and rabbits.

According to TWRA spokesperson Matt Cameron, Mid-January to mid-March is coyote mating season, so homeowners are more apt to see them slinking around during thes months.

Coyotes reproduce each winter and can have up to 10 or 12 pups in each litter. Coyotes can live to be 10 years old in the wild.

They love to hang around neighborhoods, where they can easily find scraps and small animals.

“We are trashy people, we throw away a lot of food that brings in raccoons, opossums, mice, rats, all sorts of small mammals, which is what coyotes thrive on basically,” Cameron said.

When you see a coyote on your property, it is legal to shoot and kill it in the state of Tennessee. If you are shooting it somewhere else for game, you will need to have your small game hunting license, which is $34.

“State law offers very little protection for coyotes,” Cameron admitted. “There’s an open season, which is year round, and there’s no limit on the number that you can kill.”

Cameron suggested carrying pepper spray while you’re out, especially at night. It’s a good tactic to shoo the creatures away.

“Making yourself look larger, yelling at it, pick up a stick or rock something and throw it at that and we’ll let it know that you’re not afraid of it and generally they will leave you alone,” Cameron said.

Small dogs are most vulnerable to coyote attacks than other pets, so make sure your pet is on a leash or in a fence when going outside.

“When we let our animals out and you just turn them loose and let them go, you’re taking a risk on a coyote or another dog or something attacking and killing your pet,” Cameron said.

Cameron also suggests hiring a wild coyote trapper to help control the population on your land, but coyotes will continue to come back year after year.

Excerps taken from an article written by Katie Inman at channel 10 News TN

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