Contributed by: Chris Caraveo, Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman, Cheney Slocum
They’re out there. In the area. And hungry.
Multiple coyote sightings in the Austin and Round Rock areas this year have put residents on alert as they go about their daily routines. In the month of January Austin citizens have reported 86 coyote complaints, an increase from 74 at this same time last year.
Haley Hudnall of Austin Wildlife Rescue said that the gradual increase in coyotes, along with bobcats, in the area have become more common because of Austin expansion.
“There’s nowhere else for them to go,” Hudnall said. “So they’re learning to live in the city at least a little bit. They’re eating mice and rats and whatever is available to them.”
It all comes down to survival.
“They’re just running out of places to go so they have to learn how to live in the city like opossums and raccoons or else they don’t live,” she said.
A more serious concern deals with lingering coyotes near elementary and middle schools.
Up in Round Rock, schools like Great Oaks Elementary have seen the fox-like animal in the vicinity. School staff and parents have both worried over the safety of students who have to walk to and from school.
“Our elementary and middle schools don’t have buses because we all live in the area,” Great Oaks preschool teacher Lisa Baumann said.
The school administration sent out a notice to alert parents about the coyote problem near the school and informed them about how to address the issue to their children.
In the letter it states that while coyote attacks on humans are rare children should walk in groups to provide a numbers advantage. It also urges students to never approach a wild animal, yell at an approaching coyote and to get away from the area if it doesn’t flee.
The overall aim with dealing with these coyotes is to prevent harmful incidences while also respecting their nature. Like most un-domesticated wildlife coyotes developed aggressive predator skills in order to survive.
“They have killed a small dog on a home that backed up against the Greenbelt,” Baumann said. “So they are hungry, they are out there and they’re moving around.”
As coyotes try to survive within city there comes a great risk of them getting harmed themselves.
Via social media Round Rock resident David Squires said a freshly killed coyote was spotted on a service road less than a mile from two Murchison and Highland Park Elementary Schools.
In a report last August by Austin’s KTBC Fox, Texas Wildlife Services euthanized two coyotes because they had chased someone from Blunn Creek Nature Preserve.
In the event that a coyote is not killed but sustains any injuries, there are not many places within Austin that can treat them.
Austin Wildlife Rescue, located on Martin Luther King Blvd., currently does not have state certification to care for the animal. But there are hopes that it will become authorized to do so.
“As of last year we were not allowed to,” Hudnall said. “But laws are starting to change and this year we’re supposed to do that. We don’t have the official word yet.”
As more coyote dens become uninhabitable these displaced animals have to move somewhere else and eat something other than what they’ve been accustomed to.
They just might have to do that around the city.