Coyotes are a nuisance but not much of a threat

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, July 12, 2023

NATCHEZ — Coyote sightings were reported last week in Natchez. The town is filled with bayous, ravines and wooded areas providing habitat for all sorts of wildlife passing through town.

Coyotes roam the country side in Lincoln County. It is not uncommon to hear their cries under a full moon or early in the morning while turkey hunting.

People should not fear coyotes. They are extremely sensitive to movement and often afraid of humans. Mississippi State’s Extension Service states the main threat coyotes or any wildlife pose in urban settings is when they are cornered and act to defend themselves. 

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Anthony Ballard, Bear Program Director and Nuisance Wildlife Biologist, said coyote sightings are so common in Mississippi that the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks doesn’t keep up with sightings for them. If you encounter a coyote in your backyard give it space. It will likely move along its way without causing any harm to anyone. 

“They are really wary of humans. Coyote sightings are like any other wildlife species. We aren’t actively monitoring them. They are just normal wildlife,” Ballard said.

People should be aware that coyotes do take advantage of easy to get food. Coyotes are omnivores and will eat anything from carrion, dead animals, to soft mast foods such as blackberries and persimmons. 

Coyotes are most active at night but do move around during daylight hours. It is best to supervise your pet at night if you suspect a coyote to be close by. MSU Extension Service recommends people bring in food and water from outside to the home to not attract coyotes and other wildlife to the yard. 

“Coyotes will take cats if cats are left alone outside and if the coyote sees an opportunity. Small dogs could be a concern but they are less of a concern,” Ballard said. “You don’t get much herbivory with coyotes so garden damage is not a concern. Most garden damage is caused by deer.”

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks considers coyotes to be a nuisance. For technical guidance, contact the MDWFP wildlife bureau at 601-432-2199 or call the southern regional office at (601) 783-2911. Coyotes can be hunted year round just like hogs. 

Bear tagged in Wilkinson

MDWFP and Mississippi State University are working on research projects with bears. One of them is tracking bear movements through GPS collars. Ballard said Tuesday they were able to collar a bear in Wilkinson County. 

He said the bear weighed 270 pounds which is lighter than a 290 pound bear and 320 pound bear the department collared recently. Black bears are native to Mississippi and slowly building up in population size. 

“We are looking at moving traps and getting onto some different properties in other areas where we have permission to work,” Ballard said. “It is going well. I’m hopeful moving into the fall.”