Coyote sightings grow in south Tulsa
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
1/23/13 at 4:34 AM
Living on the southern edge of Tulsa, Judy Garmaker knows she shares her Forest Trails neighborhood with wildlife. It hasn't been an issue before, but recently she and some of her neighbors have had some close encounters with coyotes.
"We've seen coyotes occasionally, but it's become an almost daily occurrence," said Garmaker, who recently took pictures of a coyote in front of her house in the middle of the day. "To see them walking down the street or laying in a neighbor's yard, that's unusual."
Garmaker, who is president of the Forest Trails Neighborhood Association, said there's been close to 20 sightings of coyotes in her neighborhood, including two instances where a coyote was found in a fenced backyard attacking or pinning the family's dog.
"The backyard, we think of it as our safe zone. We throw our dogs out there when we go to the grocery store," she said. "We're concerned that they are getting into backyards. People don't know what to do."
Michael Bergin, spokesman for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the number of coyotes in Oklahoma isn't booming, it's just that as more cities and suburbs grow, they expand into the coyotes' habitat.
Sightings also increase at this time of year, even during midday, because it's breeding season for female coyotes.
"Breeding season changes an animal's behavior for a while," Bergin said.
Normally coyotes are leery of humans and most people may never see one even if they live near each other, he said.
"They might become more bold if they're hungry," Bergin said, or if they learn easy food sources are found in neighborhoods and adapt to the urban setting.
That's why it's important that trash, dog food and pets aren't left outside unattended, he said.
There's also year-round open hunting season on coyotes, but in neighborhoods homeowners must obey city and county laws regarding the use of firearms, so professional trappers and wildlife handlers should be called if the coyotes are deemed a nuisance, Bergin said.
"They're unique animals - cool animals," he said, and if the coyote isn't a danger, people should enjoy the fact that they got to see one. "That's part of the territory of living in Oklahoma, you see wildlife."
If you see a coyote, don't run or turn your back on the animal. Make yourself as big and loud as possible by waving your arms, clapping your hands and throwing things at the coyote. Shout in a loud voice, and if the coyote still doesn't leave face it and slowly back away.
Teach children about urban wildlife and to never approach wild animals or domestic animals they don't know.
Keep pets current on vaccinations.
Dog owners should supervise pets while outside, especially dusk through dawn. If you leave a dog outside, put it in a fully enclosed kennel. Keep pets on a short leash and don't let them interact or play with wildlife. Avoid known or potential den sites and thick vegetation where coyotes may seek cover. Pick up small dogs when coyotes are visible.
For cat owners, the best way to guarantee a cat's safety is to keep it indoors.
Source: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Original Print Headline: Coyote sightings up in south Tulsa
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Judy Garmaker took this photo of a coyote on the afternoon of Jan. 13 from her front yard in the Forest Trails neighborhood in the 6000 block of East 106th Place. "Right after I took the picture a car drove toward him then slowed down and drove around him. He didn't move but just kept strolling down the middle of the street," she said. Courtesy