Radford officials talk best practices after pack of coyotes spotted

Published: Feb. 13, 2020 at 11:14 PM EST
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Officials in the City of Radford want you to know what to do if you encounter a coyote. This comes after a pack was spotted there this week.

“Where there’s thickets, woods, there are coyotes, we just don’t see them in the day because they’re nocturnal,” Sr. Animal Control Officer Adele Katrovitz said.

Katrovitz said she just so happened to take a coyote training the day after Monday’s encounter.

According to the police department, residents saw a pack of three coyotes in the areas of Ninth St., Robertson St. and Pendleton St.

“If you take out that female alpha, then all of the females in that pack are open for breeding,” Katrovitz said. “It’s a survival mechanism.”

Katrovitz said the worst thing to do is kill them because their population can multiply.

“If we start interfering with that then the numbers can get out of control, but we don’t want to have that approach,” Katrovitz said. “We want to have a humane approach.”

She said a pack can live in an area of two to three miles. If anything happens to their alpha male and alpha female, that can cause problems in the pack because only the alphas can breed. If the alpha female is eliminated, every female in the pack is open for breeding.

“They can get used to humans and they can get used to living pretty well along the edges of habitation, so I think that’s something people should know about coyotes,” said Dr. Marcella Kelly, a professor of fisheries and wildlife conservation at Virginia Tech.

Kelly started studying coyotes nine years ago when the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries was responding to deer population issues. She said she has learned to treat them similarly to bears by not leaving out a food source to keep them coming back. Kelly said these attractants could even be things like compost.

“Coyotes can eat a lot of different types of food,” she said. “Things that you might not think of that are attractants.”

If a coyote is approaching you, officials said you should clap your hands and make noise. If it doesn’t run away, that’s when you should call for help.

“Their normal reaction should be to just disappear or get away,” Kelly said. “If you’re not seeing what I would call a normal reaction, then I would think then that’s cause for alarm.”

Kelly and Katrovitz said it’s far more likely the animal will be afraid of you.

Katrovitz said she can’t recall the last time a citizen reported seeing a coyote. She said they had a report a few years ago of one being hurt, but animal control could not find it.

“[Late at night] that’s their time, they’re nocturnal animals,” she said. “We would expect to not see them.”

Radford City Police ask that you report any sightings of coyotes.

“We have asked the communications officers to log those sightings from residents and if there’s an animal or coyote that seems to be sick or aggressive, to call and we will send an officer if that’s the case, too,” said Chief Jeff Dodson, Jr.

Katrovitz said there may be more coyote sightings this time of year because it’s their mating season.

Kelly said coyotes prey on small dogs and cats, so be sure to keep your fur babies close to you when they’re outside.

WDBJ7 has learned of at least one family who lost a cat in a coyote attack last week.

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