Coyote calls drop
But it’s hard to say whether the drop is a result of the city’s continued trapping program or other factors, or perhaps some combination, Burroughs said.
“We know that reported sightings are down, and there have not been any bites reported this year,” Burroughs said in a recent interview.
“Maybe it is a result of our efforts, maybe it has to do with the drought conditions, maybe people are used to seeing them. I can’t say for sure if there is a correlation between our efforts and the reduction in reported encounters.”
The police department’s animal control division started trapping coyotes in late 2009 after getting reports of repeated encounters in town between coyotes and people. Burroughs said the coyotes are “humanely removed” from populated areas of Port Aransas, but he wouldn’t say what has been done with the wild canines after that.
At least five people reported being bitten by coyotes in separate incidents in 2009. All of the victims were sleeping outdoors at night, some of them camping.
Injuries were minor, infl icted by quick nips from the coyotes. But at least some of the victims got rabies shots as precautions.
Animal control officers have used cage-style traps to catch coyotes. Burroughs has declined to reveal the locations where the trapping has taken place.
Some 36 coyotes have been caught since the trapping started in late 2009, Burroughs said. That includes about 12 this past spring.
Trapping efforts continue today, but none has been captured since early spring this year, the chief said.
In addition to initiating the trapping program, police went on a public education campaign designed to prevent human-coyote encounters that could end up badly.
Police have advised folks not to sleep in open areas, staying in tents when camping. Other advice has included not leaving food out where coyotes can get to it.
The reduced number of coyote sightings this past summer came at the same time that record numbers of folks visited Port Aransas.
“I’d like to think that part of the reason has been our community outreach and trapping efforts, but it is difficult to draw a definitive conclusion about a cause and effect,” Burroughs said.
“I seriously doubt that there is one single factor that we could point to that has led to the reduction in encounters,” the chief said. “I expect it is a combination of our efforts and changing environmental conditions. If we continue to see a reduction, or at least no significant increases in coyotehuman encounters over the course of the next few years, then I would say that we have met the goal of managing the coyote population. But I don’t think we will ever know if it was due to our efforts or if the coyotes instinctively moved on to less inhabited areas.”
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