Reports of NC coyote attack have some worried, but concerns may be overblown

Pets and Animals

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Recent reports of a coyote attack on a greenway in Guilford County have people all over the state worried about those animals when people are outdoors.

However, CBS 17 has discovered coyotes may not have been involved, and people’s concerns may be overblown.

When you think of coyotes, you think of a habitat like the woods, but you’re just as likely to find a coyote in an urban environment because they’re very adaptable. 

And, although they can live anywhere, they’re not fond of humans. 

“Coyotes are really interested in avoiding us and they’re good at it,” said Fayln Owens, who is a wildlife biologist for North Carolina Wildlife Resources.

When it comes to coyote attacks, they may be getting a bad rap.  

Owens specializes in human/animal interactions and says her investigation of the recent Greensboro-area attack appears to be a case of mistaken identity. 

“The nature of the bite and the description of the animal from those attacked is lining up more to what we suspect is a rabid grey fox as opposed to a coyote,” she said. 

Although Owens says coyotes range everywhere in North Carolina, the only time they use a den is to hide their pups when they’re young. Coyotes  tend not to get and spread rabies, unlike other wildlife.

“Coyotes fall low on that list,” she said. “In the past 30 years, we’ve had a couple of dozen test positive for rabies versus thousands of raccoons and foxes testing positive.” 

So, although you don’t have to worry much about rabid coyotes running all over landscape, that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. They’re invasive. 

Owens says that’s why there’s a year-round open season on coyote hunting. 

“Coyotes are not considered to be a native species here in North Carolina,” she said. “If you’re interested in hunting coyotes and you’re in an area where firearms are legal, you can do it any day of the year — even at night.” 

Because coyotes are adaptable, their range can include your neighborhood.  They will use anything as food source because they are opportunists. 

“That’s really the number one complaint about coyotes,” Owens said.  “They can take outdoor cats.” 

Small domestic pets can also be at risk too. Because Coyotes are wily, they’ll learn your pet’s “go outside routine” and be waiting for it. 

If you’re approached by a coyote, there’s a simple way to get rid of it — make a lot of noise. They don’t like that, and they’ll generally flee. 

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