Experts share ideas to keep pets safe from coyotes during breedi - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Experts share ideas to keep pets safe from coyotes during breeding season

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Several Hamilton County residents are on high alert after recently spotting coyotes in their neighborhood. Experts say, it's normal this time of year, but there are things homeowners and pet owners can do to avoid becoming a target.

The coyote breeding season is happening now, which could explain why many people have been hearing more howling at night recently.

"It sounds like a group of dogs howling at night. It actually sounds like the movies," said Red Bank resident Nikki Vinson.

Vinson has spotted coyotes several times in her backyard and around her neighborhood near Lullwater Rd.

"Once (the coyotes) start howling up there, all the dogs in the neighborhood start going off," she said. "Here lately, it's been quite loud at night."

Jeremy Hooper has dedicated his studies at UTC to taking a closer look at coyote behavior.

"Coyotes are gonna be seen around us. It's just the way of urban living now," Hooper said.

Over the past few years, Hooper has helped several neighborhoods in the area that have been hot spots for coyote sightings.

Those include Red Bank, East Brainerd, Hixson (in areas along the river), the foot of Signal Mountain (along Mountain Creek Road), North Shore, and Stringer's Ridge.

"But just because they're in the area, doesn't mean it's a bad thing," said Hooper. "It means you need to be aware."

Hooper says coyotes will hang out where they know they can find food, like neighborhood trash.

"We need to be conscious as a community, not just as a household or a neighborhood, of what's available for coyotes to eat," he said. "We don't want them eating trash. We don't want them coming around and eating our birdseed."

The RIVER emergency vet clinic treats animals of suspected coyote attacks. Just a couple have occurred over the past few months.

"A lot of times, it's really hard to determine whether it was a coyote or not, unless the owners have actually physically seen their dog attacked by it," said Stefanie Sullivan, DVM.

Pet owners should stay alert at night, especially in areas coyotes are known to roam.

"If you let them outside, don't let them free roam," advised Sullivan. "Keep them on a leash. Just keep a close eye on them."

Anyone concerned about coyotes in their neighborhood can contact Hooper or the UTC Wildlife Club to come out and investigate. Hooper's e-mail is:

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