Officially Galveston is doing about all it can, or should do, to help people avoid bad encounters with the island’s resident population of coyotes.

The bad encounters, as the newspaper reported Monday, typically involve pets such as dogs and cats being killed and injured by coyotes. We’ve never heard a report of a person being injured or even threatened by a coyote. Coyotes are so shy that most people have never even seen one.

Islanders have talked and debated about coyotes for a long time, probably as long as people have lived here, but the issue came up recently in the case of Claude Williams, whose family lost two of its beloved dogs to a coyote. A third small dog was badly mauled.

These stories always are lamentable and this one is especially so because the dogs were attacked during their morning sojourn into the fenced back yard of the family’s home on Golfcrest Drive.

“Every day for 13 years, we’d just let them out in the morning,” Williams said. “It was just another day. I’ve done this thousands of times over the years. It was a routine.”

It’s not hard to understand that the family considered its own backyard to be a safe place for the dogs. It always had been.

The truth, though, and the lesson for residents is that while coyote attacks on domestic pets are very rare, but they do happen so people should be very careful.

The Galveston Police Department’s animal control division tracks coyote reports. There are three confirmed packs of coyotes in areas east of 7 Mile Road, according to the police department.

There are as many as four other packs on the West End, the department said.

Each pack is estimated to include between six and eight adult coyotes, according to the department.

One pack lives near the Calvary Cemetery, 2506 65th St., which is in the general area of Golfcrest Drive. Another lives around the East End Flats, an undeveloped marsh area east of Ferry Road.

Over the past year, there have been dozens of reports of coyote sightings, but few incidents of the animals bothering people or pets, according to the police department.

“Coyotes are not the scourge of the island,” said Josh Henderson, one of the city’s animal control officers.

“It’s wildlife that we have on the island and they are behaving in a manner that is natural. They aren’t doing anything we don’t expect them to do.”

People have come up with all sorts of ideas about how to “solve” the coyote problem — everything from exterminating them to trapping and taking them somewhere else.

The city has rejected those ideas, and that’s the right thing to have done. There are all sorts of moral and ethical questions about killing and attempting to move the coyotes, which are valid, but the bottom line is a matter of practicality.

“As a general rule, killing coyotes is an ineffective method of management,” the police department said. “This method has been the cause of more problems than solutions in many areas throughout the county.”

Killing some of the coyotes could just cause the ones that remain to breed more often, and actually cause the pack sizes to increase, Henderson said.

It’s no more practically possible to eliminate the coyotes by extermination or some method ostensibly more humane than it would be to deal with rattlesnakes, which also can kill pets, in such a way.

Instead, the department is stepping up its efforts to inform people about native coyotes, Henderson send. When Henderson heads out to calls about coyotes, he now has pamphlets informing people about the animals and how best to stay safe around them.

He advises people to cut back the brush in their yards, and to think twice about putting things that might attract small prey, such as squirrels, to the same places where pets might go.

People should also haze coyotes — yell, spray water, shine lights at them — to make them afraid to hang around, he said.

The way to deal with the coyote threat is the same way people deal with the threat of rattlesnakes and the main threat, automobiles. It’s to keep pets close and keep a close eye on them.

• Michael A. Smith

Michael A. Smith: 409-683-5206; michael.smith@galvnews.com

(21) comments

Gary Miller

Small unattended pets are Coyote food. Don't feed the Coyotes. Keep a close watch on pets. Best for pets and Coyotes. Coyotes are probably helping keep the Feral cat population under control.

Paula Flinn

If there were lions, tigers, or wolves running around our neighborhoods eating small pets would you say the same thing?

Being vigilant is fine, but it is no solution to the growing coyote population and problem on our island in our neighborhoods. Six or seven packs of coyotes are too many, and will continue to be a growing problem.

Don Schlessinger

[thumbup]

Jim Forsythe

If you are worried about coyotes, you can try wolf urine, as it can be used to deter cats, feral cats, coyotes and foxes. Do not use coyote urine, as it will attract coyotes. If you do not want to buy wolf urine you may want to use some of the things outlined below. Trying to control the population of coyotes usually ends with more coyotes not less as a reduction in number will trigger a lot more offspring. Remember we moved into the coyotes home, as they were here before us. It is up to you to protect your pets, as coyotes do not know the difference of a pet verses mice, rabbits and such.

Coyotes rarely attack people, but do attack pets. To reduce the chance of having unpleasant encounters with coyotes:

Do not put feed or water out for coyotes or for other wild animals that are prey for coyotes (e.g., deer, rabbits, etc.).------Construct and position bird feeders so that coyotes and their prey (squirrels and coyote rodents) cannot get to the feed.---------Secure garbage and/or compost piles where coyotes cannot get to them.------Feed pets indoors whenever possible. Pick up any leftovers when feeding outdoors.------Trim shrubbery that provides hiding cover for wildlife.----Do not allow pets to run free. Provide secure nighttime housing for them. Walk your dog on a leash and accompany your pet outside, especially at night.----Discourage coyotes from coming to your area. If you start seeing coyotes around your home or property, chase them away by shouting, making loud noises, and throwing sticks or rocks.------Making your neighborhood less welcoming to coyotes can greatly reduce the possibility of human/coyote encounters by encouraging coyotes to stay in their natural habitat, away from residential streets and yards.



If you are having lions, tigers, or wolves running around your neighborhoods , you have a larger problem. If you do, I have some cousins that can take care of it for you.

Randy Chapman

Galveston Island Coyotes are to be preserved.

They are more Red Wolf than coyote as proven by DNA samples. So yes, in a sense, Galveston does indeed have wolves running the island.



https://www.mtu.edu/news/stories/2018/december/a-future-for-red-wolves-may-be-found-on-galveston-island.html


Connie Patterson

As I understand it...Coyotes don’t kill cats and dogs to eat but because they are competition for food, rays, mice and other rodents. Agreed the best strategy is to scare them off and bring your pets in at night.

Paula Flinn

1/2 of a cat was found a block away from my house. Coyotes kill and sometimes eat cats. Tell that to the gentleman who is grieving over his dogs who were attacked and killed in their own fenced yard.

Jim Forsythe

Cats are responsible for the deaths of many bird. But this is the way that mother nature does things. If you do not secure you cat or small dog they may become food for birds of pray, dogs or coyotes. It up to you to protect them.

You and your pets are at a higher danger form dogs, then from coyotes. If you take steps to reduce coyotes from being attracted to your area, your chance of having interaction with a coyote is small. If you do not take steps to reduce the possibility than you are at the same risk as before, which is slim. The same can not be said for dogs that attack. Below a few of the attacks by dogs in Galveston County on humans, I did not find one attack on a human by a coyote.----------

Sunday, October 28, 2018 -- A woman who was severely injured after she and her dog were violently attacked by another canine in Galveston is in stable condition after undergoing surgery. Authorities say she might need more. The incident happened on Friday around 1:30 p.m. on 312 14th Street near Tony's International Car Care.------

January 23, 2018 Police believe same dog responsible for 2 Galveston attacks in past week A woman was attacked by a dog in Galveston on Monday, according to police. Officers arrived in the 3400 block of Cove View Boulevard to find the woman, who appeared to have severe injuries from the attack, police said. ------

July 02, 2017 TEXAS CITY A young boy was hospitalized Saturday after being attacked by two dogs in his backyard. --------

50-years old Friendswood woman was found dead lying in a pool of blood in her backyard by landscapers after being attacked by two of her family's three dogs. The primary attacker was a pit bull-mix, also described in press reports as a catahoula-bulldog mix, the victim had recently taken in from her mother. Responding officers shot and killed that dog after it tried to attack them-----

March 14, 2019 Dog Bite Fatality: Man, 53-Years Old, Mauled to Death by Three Dogs in Galveston County, Texas


Gary Miller

If the island has 7 packs of Coyotes how many packs live in the county?Very seldom seen. I was suprised to learn wildlife experts believe 6,000 River Otters live around Galveston bay and over 100 on the Island. How often are they seen? Bob cats live here also. Seen one lately? Wildlife is less of a problem than feral cats and dogs.

Randy Chapman

Supposedly those otters do a number on crab traps around Moses Lake. They are also in the rainwater catchment basin along Bay Street.

Jim Forsythe

Saw a bobcat at Jack Brooks park a few years a go.

Susan Smith

Only good coyote, is a dead coyote!

Randy Chapman

That's silly. They have their place in nature and have adapted to the hand they've been dealt. I don't want any pets to die because of them, but feral cats are a much bigger menace than a few coyotes. Cats need to be thinned out of the environment. And as I say this, I have 2 street rescue cats within 10 feet of me. They just don't belong outdoors or allowed to run feral. So, coyotes are performing a needed service.



Or maybe I missed your point. Were you referring to coyote human smugglers? If so, then yes I agree, the only good coyote is a dead coyote.

Jim Forsythe

Susan, are you going to hunt the coyotes or use some other means to kill them. If you tan a coyotes hide, they do make beautiful coats. After each killed coyote you are going to kill the mice and snakes that coyote kills each day? If not, be prepared for a increase in snakes , mice, rats, neutra, opossums, racoons and such. Myself, I prefer coyotes' over these pest.

Coyote hunting season does not close in Texas.

Paula Flinn

Maybe there are not enough little wild mammals around to feed 7 packs of coyotes. They are coming into the city for a reason—food. Maybe next week there will be 8 or 9 packs of coyotes. Any other city would have a plan to get rid of coyotes. Trap them and relocate them, if you want to save them. They don’t belong on Galveston Island. The dog problem is a different problem. Coyotes are not domestic animals. They are wild. They are multiplying. The problem is growing. The cat that was 1/2 eaten was someone’s pet, not a feral cat. My 2 cats are inside cats.

Jim Forsythe

Paula, before you trap a coyote, make sure you know the law. "It is a Class C misdemeanor to transport or sell live foxes, skunks, coyotes and raccoons from, to, or within this state. For additional information, please contact the Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health at (512) 776-7676." Trapping can happen if you want to hire the right people to do the job. " Nuisance fur-bearing animals may be captured and relocated if the person has received authorization from TPWD and the owner of the property where the release will occur" remember that trapping and similar nuisance control actions cannot eliminate urban coyote problems. Also, you will have to have a land owner that is willing to except them. Most will not, as this will get the number of coyotes on their land out of balance.

If there is not enough food to feed the coyotes we have, they will not increase in numbers. In most cases this will trigger reducing the number of young they produce. The dog problem also include dogs released into to the wild by humans. How many attacks on pets and humans happen because of dogs verses coyotes?

You said "They don’t belong on Galveston Island" but they do as they help control the pest problem. As you said ". They are coming into the city for a reason" and the reason is because we are decreasing the size of there homes by build more human homes. If people do not want their pets to become coyote food, they need to protect them.




Randy Chapman

The cat should have been kept indoors, not allowed to roam. The coyotes have more right to be on the island than the hordes of people that have invaded the west end and ruined the open spaces with their destruction of a coastal barrier island. I suppose you want to pave the entire island and have a boardwalk from one end to the other? No hints of nature allowed?

Randy Chapman

Again, Paula, Galveston Island coyotes are a hybrid of Red Wolf(dominant) and normal coyote. They have remained that way due to isolation. They will not be harmed or moved for the convenience of a few people.

Carlos Ponce

In my neighborhood, when a coyote threatens any pets, livestock,poultry, etc., a shotgun takes care of the problem. But you realize I don't live within any city limits.

Randy Chapman

Carlos said he wants all Galveston's coyotes moved to his neighborhood.[tongue]

Carlos Ponce

I'll get my shot gun ready. We got a sign ready for them: "ROADRUNNER COUNTRY - BEEP, BEEP".

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