Is there a coyote problem in Dallas? – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth


Dallas continues its mission to solve the city’s coyote problem.

This comes after an attack injured a 2-year-old boy near White Rock Lake in May while sitting on his porch near the White Rock Trail. Three coyotes were killed in the area after the attack.

In July, the city of Dallas launched a coyote management plan to prevent further incidents. On Monday, Paul Ramon, acting general manager of Animal Services, provided an update to the city council’s quality of life, arts and culture committee.

He said a total of four coyotes have been killed since the attack and all have tested negative for rabies.

A coyote hotline has been established for information gathering and sighting reports. Ramon said the city has received more than 850 calls, including some even from outside the Dallas city limits.

The city has held neighborhood meetings to educate residents about coyote behaviors and attack prevention, with more meetings to come. Signs detailing the hotline number and warnings have been placed in key areas with plans to put more permanent signs in specific locations. Progress is also being made on the creation of an interactive online map and submission page.

Animal Services also works with code compliance to resolve issues and problems – primarily involving residents who intentionally or unintentionally feed coyotes, leave food for other animals, fail to clean up trash, or even leave cats and pet dogs roam.

Animal Services and Dallas Park and Recreation also answered questions from committee members about why there appears to be an influx of coyotes into spaces shared with humans.

“Much of this year will be drought-related. Keep in mind that coyotes are a species that have a high level of behavioral plasticity, which means they can adapt and adapt to life just about anywhere,” said Brett Johnson, urban biologist for Dallas Park & ​​Recreation. “We literally have coyotes currently living on the outskirts of downtown Dallas.”

He said the animals were looking for water outside of dry rural areas. Creatures like coyotes find it in ponds and streams that are fed by city irrigation.

Johnson added that the population is growing.

“Their existence and density depends on the food and prey available. If the resources go down, their number of puppy litters goes down, he said.

So, with the combined effect of the drought, he said the city must work to solve the problem of abundant food resources.

Currently, the city is considering a proposed anti-feeding ordinance to prevent more people from intentionally feeding wildlife and to prevent animals like coyotes from becoming too comfortable around humans.

This is still being debated in council, with Councilman Adam Bazaldua sharing his disapproval of such an order.

“We have to figure out how to educate our residents to co-exist with the wildlife we ​​are next to. But I don’t necessarily see the answer to be a harsh government order to smack people with a fine as an answer,” he said. “Will slapping people with a fine stop these tragic incidents? I know you can’t answer that question, just like this prescription can’t solve the problem. »

Ann Barnes, assistant general manager of Dallas Animal Services, said more community meetings and discussions would be scheduled before the order could go ahead. She added that it could give her team more support to deal with constant offenders.

“Intentional or unintentional feeding is part of every case of coyote escalation we’ve had since the attack. Probably 50% of them are ignoring us with feedings and it keeps getting worse,” a- she said. “We don’t want to have another incident. So that’s where the ordinance will come in, after the education. And if they continue not to follow the non-feeding of the coyote, it’s That’s where we come in. It’s not like we go door to door checking bird feeders.

The amount of the fine for an offense is not known. According to the Dallas Morning News, the section of the city code where it would be added provides for a fine of up to $2,000 for rules related to public health and sanitation, up to $500 for all other offences, or the same amount in fines imposed. by the state if city rule mirrors state law.

Bazaldua, who chairs the quality of life, arts and culture committee, said he did not understand what the enforcement plan was trying to address “other than public relations appeasement”.

“I think we are turning our wheels in the wrong direction. And I would like to see us really spin our wheels really in the direction of education,” he said. “You’re going in that direction, but we’re just devoting too much of our resources and stretching too much towards an order which I don’t think is necessarily the right direction.”

A member of council also asked about the plight of residents who like to feed feral outdoor cats in the neighborhood, which are protected in some ways.

Animal Services said they recommend everyone register the feral cat colony so they can help residents with best practices.

“We’re not saying feed your feral cats, but feed it at the same time every day and don’t leave the food there. Take it out, feed the cats, then pick it up. leave food bowls outside all the time,” said MeLissa Webber, director of Dallas Animal Services.

Another council member asked about the movement of coyotes.

“As a professional wildlife biologist, I never endorse relocation,” Johnson said. “For nuisance management purposes, it actually creates a lot of problems. In fact, in the state of Texas coyotes are covered by the rabies quarantine and there really is no travel for coyotes in Texas. If they are thought to need to be moved, they will be euthanized.

Ramon told the board that coyotes still play a vital role in the ecosystem and that the current challenge is about coexistence, setting boundaries and preventing encounters.

“Their prayer is largely things that we would consider beneficial. They feed on mice, rats and other insects and they create a balance in an ecosystem,” he said.

The diverse diet of coyotes also helps in spreading seeds for the growth of vegetation.

“I think with education people will know that you don’t have to be afraid of a coyote either. He is much more afraid of us than we should be,” said acting deputy mayor Omar Narvaez. “We’re all going to have to educate a city about something that we’ve never really dealt with before.”

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