City to criminalize wildlife feeding after coyote attack

A coyote with a squirrel on Highedge on April 13. Photo by Heather Lalicker.

City wildlife specialists released a draft of their coyote management plan, which includes a new ordinance banning wildlife feeding in Dallas. Violators will be fined.

The new measures follow a May 3 incident in which a coyote grabbed a 2-year-old boy from his porch in White Rock Valley and attempted to drag him away. Officials from Dallas Animal Services, Dallas Parks and Recreation and the United States Department of Agriculture say the coyotes were drawn to the area due to “active feeding” by neighbors.

The multipoint plan is not yet available online, but represents a comprehensive effort to control dangerous animals and educate city dwellers about protecting their families and pets from coyotes in parks and neighborhoods. Key points include reporting coyotes to the new hotline, “hazing” coyotes to make them uncomfortable around humans, and keeping animals on leashes.

The sharpest teeth in the plane, aside from those of coyotes attacking humans, are those of people who feed wildlife. The order makes it an offense to make food available for animal consumption in a way that creates a danger to public health or safety, destroys public or private property, causes more than ten adult animals to congregate or socialize wildlife with humans. The ordinance makes exceptions for wild bird feeders, allowing them not to overflow, and for feral cat colonies, which are permitted under a long-standing prior ordinance. Feral cat colonies are allowed as they help reduce the city’s rodent population. Feral cats can be fed if their colony has been registered with the city.

Neighbors can anonymously report neighbors through 311 for feeding wildlife.

A big part of the new plan is to educate the public in ways that discourage coyotes from coming — and staying — near homes and people. One example – “coyotes have a sweet tooth,” says Brett Johnson, an urban biologist with the Dallas Department of Parks and Recreation. “They love khakis and cheekbones.” Owners are encouraged to keep these and other fallen fruits collected from yard floors. Johnson said his agency and others also work with groups that help homeless people clear encampments in surrounding areas and relocate those people. Rotting food and trash create the perfect environment to attract coyotes, he said.

The coyote hotline, 469-676-9813, will continue and should be called for coyote sightings of a non-threatening nature. Aggressive coyotes should be reported to 911.

The new anti-feeding ordinance has been submitted to the city attorney’s office for review. The Dallas Quality of Life, Arts and Culture Committee will review the order on June 21.


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