Biologists determine how to handle coyote problem

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

Loading

ATLANTA - Some local biologists doing a study on coyotes believe that trapping them could do more harm than good.

The coyote population has been growing in Atlanta for decades. More sightings are being reported, and a local group is studying them to find out why.
 
“Education is the key to this. We need to educate people,” said Larry Wilson, an ecologist and adjunct professor at Emory University.
 
Wilson is working with Berry College biologist Chris Mowry on the Atlanta Coyote Project. Mowry has been studying coyotes for the past 10 years. His research team is initiating a scientific study of coyotes living within urban areas.

“(We want) to let people know what coyotes are doing, and we want to know what coyotes are doing in Atlanta,” Mowry said.

They are beginning the project by surveying metro Atlanta residents about their attitudes toward and experiences with coyotes, and they want to develop a better understanding of the animals' movement patterns. The Atlanta Coyote Project is also focusing on population sizes and their feeding behaviors with the goal of sharing the information with the public.
 
“We want to educate people about how to peacefully coexist with coyotes. They don’t need to fear these animals,” Wilson said.
 
Several of the project's videos show that coyotes are breeding and marking their territories all over metro Atlanta.

Many residents call trappers like Tim Smith of Catchthewild.com as soon as one is spotted.

“He’s just a mean coyote. You come up to the cage, he will bite,” Smith said, pointing at a coyote that he just caught in Alpharetta.
 
 Mowry and Wilson believe that trapping is not the answer. Smith disagrees.

“When you remove coyotes from an area, you are not going to be successful. When you remove them, other coyotes come in,” Wilson said.
 
“Trapping has shown it can only increase the problem in many instances," Mowry said. "Yes, it may solve a problem in the short term. They are territorial animals. When they establish their territory, they will raise their offspring, and those offspring will disperse."
 
Mowry said that if you kill one coyote, that animal's mate may migrate closer to homes.
 
 “That may lead to more desperate measures of going after food that is more easily obtained,” Mowry said.
 
Channel 2’s Craig Lucie asked Smith for his take on the study.

“I've got no love for the coyote. To be honest with you, I don’t agree. I think we need to get rid of them. We never had them in Georgia. They weren’t here before us. I’m glad they are studying them. I agree with some of it, but some of it I don’t agree with,” Smith said.
 
If you spot a coyote in your neighborhood, the Atlanta Coyote Project would like to hear from you.

Click here to fill out the survey.