Memo-10-13-2015 - Item 12

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Presentation - Coyotes

I have scheduled time on the Board’s October 13 meeting agenda to receive a presentation from Evin Stanford, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Biologist, about coyotes in urban areas.  As you know, coyotes are now present in Emerald Isle, and have raised concerns from some property owners.  I am hopeful that Evin Stanford’s presentation will be helpful to the Board and the public in understanding coyote behavior, how to coexist with coyotes, and determine the proper management strategy for coyotes in Emerald Isle.

Town staff first began receiving reports of coyotes in Emerald Isle approximately one year ago.  To date, coyote sightings have been reported at:

  • The Pointe (including on the “island” across the channel from the Coast Guard Station),
  • Pointe Bogue,
  • Lands End,
  • Spinnakers Reach,
  • Cape Emerald,
  • Osprey Ridge,
  • Janell Lane,
  • Emerald Landing,
  • Sea Oats,
  • behind the Town Government complex,
  • the EI Public Boating Access Area,
  • near the water tank at mile marker 16 on NC 58, and
  • on the east end, including near the Eastern Ocean Regional Access.

Coyotes are known to range over relatively long distances, and it is likely that some of these sightings in different subdivisions are the same coyote family moving around Emerald Isle.  Coyotes often live in small family units that may include a mother, father, and 5-7 pups.  We are not certain how many coyotes there may be in Emerald Isle at this time.  We are also not certain how the coyotes travelled to Emerald Isle, as there is speculation that they may have swam across Bogue Sound or perhaps travelled over the NC 58 bridge.

To date, the Town has simply advised concerned property owners to simply leave the coyotes alone, do not feed them, and to be watchful of pets and small children, particularly at night.  Coyotes are omnivores (each both animals and plants), and typically feed on rabbits, carrion, rodents, deer, and other small animals, as well as berries and watermelons.  Coyotes can be a threat to domestic pets, and may attempt to prey on small cats and dogs.  They may also be threatened by large dogs, and may exhibit hostile behavior toward them.  I have attached several handouts with helpful information about coyotes for the Board’s review.

Thus far, Town staff have received only one report of a possible negative interaction with a coyote.  In September, a pet beagle was found dead outside a home on Coast Guard Road, and there is suspicion that the death may have been caused by a coyote.  The beagle had a laceration on the neck area, but the dog’s body was completely intact.  EIPD shared photos with Evin Stanford, and he was unable to determine whether the beagle was attacked by a coyote or not.

Under NC wildlife regulations, an individual may shoot and kill a coyote on his / her property at any time, however, Town ordinances prohibit hunting of any kind and the discharge of firearms everywhere in Emerald Isle.  One option available to our property owners is to enlist the services of a licensed coyote trapper, and I have attached a list of licensed trappers in Carteret County.  Some individuals have suggested that the Town should take steps to eliminate the coyotes in Emerald Isle (i.e., a controlled hunt), and I am hopeful that Evin Stanford will address the pros and cons of this option during his presentation.

I look forward to receiving Evin Stanford’s presentation, and welcome any direction from the Board on how to proceed on the coyote issue.