Recent media attention to coyotes snatching up and eating pets in New Orleans has highlighted spring flooding as the possible culprit.
While flooding may be playing a minor role, it's really Hurricane Katrina that is to blame, according Kenny Ribbeck, chief of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries' wildlife division.
Ribbeck said that areas that were decimated by Katrina have become suitable habitat for the coyotes as a result. As these areas have come to be cleaned up and rebuilt, people have re-inhabited them.
Ribbeck explained that it isn't so much that the presence of coyotes in New Orleans is a new thing; it's just that people are moving back into these areas that are now inhabited coyotes and noticing them more.
The coyotes have been blamed for eating cats and other pets that stay out at night.
One woman said that a coyote snatched and killed her chihuahua while she was taking it on a walk in a park. She said that she found the partly-eaten body the next morning, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Ribbeck stated that this attack must have been made by a stray dog rather than a coyote, however. He explained that coyotes take their prey away to a secure location and eat the whole thing. "A stray dog would be the one ripping them apart and leaving parts," he said.
Park and parish officials are exploring different options to get rid of the coyotes. Trappers have said that coyotes would be highly unlikely to be caught in a cage trap.
According to the AP, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sent out its SWAT team to shoot the coyotes. As of Thursday, several had been shot.
Some experts have argued that killing coyotes will not control the population and that "hazing" can be an effective way of keeping them out of areas where they are not wanted.
Non-lethal ways of taking care of the problem are being discussed.
From AccuWeather.com (find the original story here); reprinted with permission.