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Open season on four-legged invader
In Oct. 1 Issue
By Derek Aaron
Times Journal Reporter

Coyotes in the Lake Cumberland area are more bothersome this fall than in previous years, according to several locals who have had run-ins with the adaptable animals over the past few weeks.

These opportunistic feeders have been spotted near houses in parts of Russell County and have also been deemed responsible for several missing pets in the area.

One Russell County resident reported that at least three of his cats had become missing after he saw several coyotes around his home in the central part of the county last week.

Coyotes, which produce one litter per year, tend to breed during the early months of January, February and March and their pups are born between March and May. In late September and during the month of October, many of the pups reach the age to leave their parents and head out on there own to establish their own territories, one of the reasons so many have been reported so far this fall.

According to Seth Stewart, an information center supervisor with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, coyotes weigh between 20 and 50 pounds, with males being the larger of the two sexes.

These animals, with their distinctive gray, brown and black coats, are a nuisance to local livestock farmers and people with outside pets, such as cats or small dogs, he said.

Coyotes, whose trademark are their high-pitched howls and barks, are good predators that have the speed and strength necessary to take down prey as large as an adult whitetail deer.

Theses animals mainly eat mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits and other small mammals but can also eat insects, reptiles, amphibians, fruits, birds and their eggs as well as deer fawns.

They have also been known to attack and kill sheep, cattle and chickens as well as domestic cats and dogs, Stewart said.

Coyotes are most active at night and during the early morning and late evening hours, according to state wildlife officials.

Officials say trapping with foothold traps or snares is the most effective and least time-consuming method for getting rid of problematic coyotes.

These animals may be taken year-round by hunting or with traps or non-locking snares during the furbearer trapping season, which runs from noon on Nov. 16 to Feb. 28. of next year, and may only be hunted during daylight hours, according to Stewart. The trapped coyotes should be killed, officials say.

Landowners do not need a hunting or trapping license to harvest coyotes, but should contact a conservation or wildlife officer prior to trapping.

The state of Kentucky has an open year-round hunting season for these exotic animals with no bag limit because of their abundance and disturbances they incur, Stewart said. The appropriate hunting license is required, unless exempt, though.

State officials say if you see coyotes on your land or farm and are not causing problems, it may better to leave them alone as bothering them could make them aggressive.

Officials warn to keep potential food sources, like pet food or garbage inside at night if you live in areas where coyotes have been seen.

The department of fish and wildlife resources says that if a coyote approaches you to stand your ground and scare the animal away. Officials warm not to run, as this only provokes their instinct to chase.

Making loud noises and waving your arms is also preferred as this helps to maintain the coyote's natural fear of humans. State wildlife officials also warn people not to run into your home to hide behind a closed door, as this may encourage coyotes to come closer and be more aggressive in the future.

"One of the best methods for preventing coyote attacks is by the ownership of guardian dogs," Stewart said. "Properly trained and cared for, dogs are a very effective way of dealing with coyote problems, but nothing is more effective than managed separation."

This separation is most easily achieved with high tensile electrical fencing, Stewart said.

"Finally, one of the last steps, or maybe the first, in managing coyote problems is through hunting and trapping," Stewart said.

Wildlife officials say hunters can use hand or mouth-operated, mechanical or electronically operated calling or attracting devices to aid in taking these predators.

Coyote trappers are restricted to non-locking snares and number 2 or smaller foothold traps, according to coyote harvesting guidelines.

Kentucky state law allows individuals whose property is being damaged by coyotes to kill the animals at any time of the year, but only by means allowed during the hunting and trapping seasons. Landowners must report any destruction of coyotes outside the trapping season to a Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources' local conservation officer for carcass disposal.

In certain instances, the Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources may allow persons other than the landowners, tenants or their dependents to assist in trapping coyotes outside the trapping season on property where a problem is known to exist.

For more information about trapping coyotes, call the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources at 1-800-858-1549.

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