In Tennessee, Knox County coyote sighting uptick is seasonal, experts say

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The howls from area residents about coyote sightings and problem encounters seem to be increasing around Knox County, but experts say it’s just seasonal business-as-usual.

Chris Abraham said he let his dog out on a recent evening in the backyard of his Fountain City area home.

“The coyote came out of the woods and started to chase my dog toward me,” he said. “I let her back in the garage.”

He posted what occurred on his Facebook page and began receiving comments from other people, some in his area of town, who had been experiencing encounters with coyotes recently.

Misty Baker of Sevierville posted a photo of a coyote by her family’s chicken coop on her Facebook page with a note: “23 of our Chickens & 2 Full size Turkey were killed.”

Coyotes have been in East Tennessee for years. Experts say people need to get used to it and adjust.

“Probably the most important thing for people to remember is that coyotes are here to stay and we must learn to coexist with them,” said Matthew Cameron, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman. “They do really well in urban environment.

“We throw away a lot of food in our trash, which draws in rats, raccoons, opossums and other scavengers.”

He could not give an estimate on how many coyotes are in Knoxville, but pointed to a study that indicated there are more than 2,000 in Chicago.

Mike McMillan, of McMillan Wildlife Control Service in Knoxville, said the recent apparent outbreak could be blamed on the time of year.

“This is the whelping season in which the females have just had their pups and both the males and females get defensive if you get in their area,” explained Mike McMillan Wildlife Control Service in Knoxville.

“There are a lot of myths about coyotes. They are obviously predators and scavengers. They do protect their home territory especially at this time of year. But, how coyotes resolve conflict is to avoid danger. If a farmer shoots at them in his fields, they won’t go in his fields.”

Cameron said TWRA laws offer little protection for coyotes. The hunting and trapping seasons are open year-round with no limit on coyotes. A number of common sense ideas help in dealing with coyotes and other scavengers such as keeping food out of reach with proper trash storage and keeping control of their dogs and cats. He also pointed to a video on how to coyote-proof chicken coops and a page on TWRA’s website about coyote control.

“They want to put this on the coyote,” McMillan said. “What people need to realize is that they are here and it is a part of life that we are going to have to deal with.”

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