Coyotes stalking Nashville’s wealthiest neighborhoods

Friday, September 12, 2008 at 1:07am

Over the course of about two weeks in August, Trish Bolian had five jarring confrontations with coyotes in the backyard of her Hillwood neighborhood home.

Bolian said the most frightening incident finished with a 50-pound coyote staring down her 40-pound Wheaton terrier, which stood statuesque and unsure how to react. Bolian’s back had only been turned for 30 seconds before she saw what was about to happen.

Thinking back to the education she received about how to deal with coyotes, Bolian thought quickly, grabbed a pot and a spoon and charged toward the canines. She was banging on the pot and got within a few feet before the coyote trotted off leaving Bolian’s pet unscathed.

Bolian got lucky that day. In the last several months, coyotes have made their presence felt throughout Davidson County, especially in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods like Green Hills, Belle Meade and Oak Hill.

Several family cats and small dogs have gone missing and neighbors have been left scrambling for how to deal with the growing problem. Over the summer, Mayor Karl Dean’s family cat even went missing and his suspicion is that the disappearance is probably related to the growing coyote problem in Green Hills.

Bolian said the worst part of the increased coyote presence in her neighborhood is how the animals have become more brazen and on several instances came within feet of her and her husband.

“It’s terrifying to me that there’s this level of attack going on,” Bolian said. “People are floundering. I don’t think they know what to do.”

Concerns about coyotes go beyond the threat they pose to family pets. Coyotes are also a danger because of diseases, like rabies, which they carry at high rates.

Education is key

District 34 Councilman Carter Todd said the number of coyote complaints he’s gotten from residents has risen over the last few years. When Todd receives a phone call, he directs his constituents to educational tools provided by the Metro Health Department and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Both of those governmental groups do little in the way of trapping the coyotes for various reasons. The primary reason is because coyotes are difficult to catch.

So while governmental agencies struggle to offer trapping options, laws also limit citizens from taking matters into their own hands. Gun laws prohibit citizens from shooting a coyote in almost all of Davidson County.

So with options limited, educating people on how to deal with the growing number of coyotes has become the top priority.

Judy Ladebauche, the director of animal care and control for Metro, said she has received several requests to speak in front of concerned neighborhood groups. Ladebauche tells them coyotes appear in neighborhoods because they are looking for food.

The best way to avoid a coyote attack on a pet is to not leave food out at night, especially trash or leftovers from a cook out. Ladebauche also recommends owners supervising their pets when they are let out to use the bathroom at night.

“Our strong recommendation is to not leave pets out at night and to always supervise them, preferably on a leash, when you take them for a walk,” Ladebauche said, adding that noise like the radio can also deter coyotes.

In his role as furbearer coordinator for TWRA, biologist Gray Anderson also has had to deal with the rise in coyote incidents in Nashville. Anderson said his agency does not keep firm statistics on the number of coyotes in the county, because the animal is incredibly difficult to track.

Anderson described rural farmers’ frustrations with coyotes and the lessons learned when they went to great lengths to destroy them.

“Coyotes are very smart,” Anderson said “The farmers found out that if they shot and killed a bunch, more would come back. It’s almost like they have a sense of population control and know that if they lose some, they need to have more litters the next year.”

According to Anderson, an important component of education is to reassure people that coyotes virtually never attack humans. According to the TWRA Web site, only 30 human attacks by coyotes have ever been recorded. Anderson said that as Nashville has continued to develop and add more residential areas, the coyotes have learned to adapt.

“It’s a perfect coyote habitat,” Anderson said. “They’re not really too much of a threat, besides to small animals in some cases. I generally tell people to do the best to keep coyotes moving.

“You can’t do much about it other than to live with it. The more you persecute them, the more they respond.”

Frustration is growing

Bolian claims, however, that she followed all of the advice given to her by TWRA and Metro Health and still the confrontations persisted. Bolian claims she keeps her trash in her house at night and never walks her animals unattended after dusk.

But several of the incidents in her backyard came in broad daylight, in the late morning or early afternoon. And the coyotes Bolian saw were not reclusive, but rather standoffish when she approached.

So Bolian called a private animal control company, the Wildlife Control Company, to help confront her coyote problem. Wildlife Control Company owner Jeff Moore set traps in Bolian’s property, but so far no coyotes have been caught.

Moore said he’s seen a rise in the number of coyote-related calls he’s received in the last several months.

“As the population grows, a lot of people like to think we’re pushing animals out,” Moore said. “But what’s happening is animals are learning to adapt.”

And as those animals are adapting, and taking the lives of more and more family pets in the process, the level of frustration has grown as well.

Moore is contracted to catch coyotes in Belle Meade and other Davidson County outlying municipalities. Some believe Metro’s best course of action might be to adopt a similar program with private contractors, who proactively trap the coyotes, instead of waiting for the problem to grow any more.

According to Todd, Metro action on the issue could be coming soon.

“We’re seeing tons of them,” Todd said. “Now, coyote attacks on humans are very, very rare. But the coyotes are attacking small dogs and cats and carry diseases. I think it’s a new event so people are still getting their arms around it.

“People in Green Hills are pretty educated and pretty patient. They’ve been saying, ‘Why don’t we contract somebody to trap these?’ Patience is starting to run out.”

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By: sidneyames on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Dogs on leashes and cats in homes don't usually disappear. Many people turn their animals out to relieve themselves and think they are safe in their yards but they are not. Our constant cutting down of forests and development, development, development is causing these "wild" animals to venture into the domesticated part of town. It's that simple. Deer on busy highways because they have no forest to stay in and coyotes in back yards because of the same reason. When these animals are trapped, what is done with them?

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"According to Anderson, an important component of education is to reassure people that coyotes virtually never attack humans. According to the TWRA Web site, only 30 human attacks by coyotes have ever been recorded."Nate:Now what part of "virtually never attack humans" and "only 30 attacks recorded" don't you understand ?If that lady came with a couple feet before the coyote backed off, that's a sign baby !Ignore it, and we'll be talking about an"unheard of" event: human attacked by coyote.This is where a shotgun is the right tool. Limited range, wide spread, and a choice of loads.No law can stop me from protecting me and mine if a life is threatened.

By: excon on 12/31/69 at 6:00

TWRA wants us to have and protect them. They are part of nature that us humans have tried to destroy.

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That's right excon, live and let live...until they start to attack...and then it's kill or be killed.Remember, all they have to do is scratch or bite and you're lethally infected.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Paranoidpanda – Calm down, calm down. I doubt that you live in the area they are talking about, so you will be alright. You could just get yourself some sacrificial kittens and puppies, and walk in peace. I am sure you could live with that.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Wrong, wrong, wrong. There have been attacks on humans going back as far as I can remember, 40 years plus now, and they'll attack a grown human male, as I've witnessed myself in Midland, TX back in the 70s. Of course, we never reported such things because we were taught to deal with that sort of thing ourselves and not involve anyone else. Conrad shot it with a pistol when it jumped him, and that was the end of that. The others in the pack ran for their lives.There've been attacks on realtors in West Tx for decades, mostly because the animal walked into the vacant house and felt trapped at the moment.And I've seen them kill any size of pet, big or small, especially if they're in a pack formation. We saw one get a dog that a woman was walking on a leash back in 82, then it pulled on the leash (extended leash, not short) and finally gave up, but the Shih-tzu's neck was broken, so it didn't matter anymore.If your dog is bitten, they'll put it in quarantine for several weeks, and if they're sure the rabies didn't transfer you "might" get your dog back. Most of the time they just destroyed (euthanized) the pet back then due to rabies risk. The rabies vaccine doesn't always prevent rabies, btw.And, thankfully, if you live in Hermitage or Bellevue for instance, you can thank your lucky stars that you are legally able to shoot a coyote as long as it's daylight. My pump action Winchester is ready and able.

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We need Sarah Palin to come and aerial hunt these coyotes for us.

By: howelln on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Coyotes in Belle Meade!!! I'm shocked!! Oh wait.. you don't mean that kind of coyote...

By: Magnum on 12/31/69 at 6:00

“Coyotes are very smart,” Anderson said “The farmers found out that if they shot and killed a bunch, more would come back.I guess their definition of "very smart" is different than mine. If all my buddies are getting killed, I'm changing neighborhoods.

By: Magnum on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"Over the summer, Mayor Karl Dean’s family cat even went missing"I can't believe these wild animals would have such audacity!

By: NewYorker1 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Yeah, but Mayor Karl Dean lives very close to a Chinese restaurant. The family cat was probably severed over rice that week.

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Not Paranoid. Reality.girliegirl knows. You can talk sweet all you want...when one of those very nasty things snarls and jumps you,you'll wish you had more than talk.Now, a pistol will work well in open spaces, but a shotgun is safer in neighborhoods cause of the spread and limited range.If they kill your small child, you won't think it's funny or paranoid. You also won't remember fondly the ones who led you to not take this seriously.pump action Winchester...now there's a girlwho knows what's what.

By: morpheus120 on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Even though I'm a card-carrying member of the ACLU and a bona-fide liberal Democrat, I'm also a gun owner and won't hesitate for a second to use deadly force to protect my family.There have been sightings of coyotes in my neighborhood and gun laws or no, any coyote coming on my property is getting an ass full of buckshot.

By: Yarddog on 12/31/69 at 6:00

What a bunch of whinners. Up here in Joelton, the west coast of Nashville, we have coyotes, lot's of Coyotes, and over the last several weeks there have been black bear sightings. I can't recall a single neighbor ringing his/her hands, it's part of the cost of living in Paradise. Oh, and Magnum, I don't recall reading anyone calling you very smart. Dog Out

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

morph – You usually seem pretty reasonable, even if not always calm, but really, lighten up. The ability to deter the coyotes, as opposed to a violent reactionary stance, is what makes us the superior beings, right? How about some of you think thru this instead of acting like a bunch of paranoid mob mentality nuts.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

When you're out on your back veranda, enjoying your small children and your Chihuaua, etc..... it's not mob mentality to be "prepared" should a coyote approach. Yelling and screaming and such does zero to deter an attack. Been there, tried that. Ergo, my Winchester, which I might add, the Metro Police Dept. steered towards purchasing at a gun show at the Fairgrounds here back in the 90s. :-)

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Does anyone else find the posts here hilarious?

By: Oldkicker on 12/31/69 at 6:00

NO! Don't shoot these coyotes! With the wealthy of these areas sporting dressed up Chiuauas this year,everywhere, these coyotes are doing us a community service.

By: ycartrob on 12/31/69 at 6:00

WickedTribe is on the right track here; Sarah Palin campaigns by coming to your neighborhood via helicopter, they'll hover low for her while she picks off a couple of stray critters with her trusty .22, then she'll land and put lipstick on the dead animal, she'll survey your land for oil, do a couple of neat tricks with her .22, hop back on the helicopter and take off, showering the crowd below with pouches of Redman.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Don’t give the campaign circus any ideas!

By: nnoseworthy on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't care if there are coyotes, as long as they're here legally, and speak English."It's a joke, son."
"36396

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Gdia, I should've clarified: Metor PD suggested the Winchester (yes, the 2 officers picked it out for me) to aid me with a 2-legged stalker situation I suffered from back then. But the Winchester works well for furry 4-legged stalkers as well. :-) And yes, these postings ARE funny.

By: girliegirl on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Oldkicker, you should see what my six yr old little girl puts on that dog! A pink tutu.... then totes her around the house all day and night. Poor dog.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Glad to see that you are teaching such value for the life of other creatures. Nothing like having a “living” toy to play with. Wonder what she will do with it when she gets tired of it? Who knows, we may have a future Pairs Hilton amongst us!

By: pandabear on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"How about some of you think thru this instead of acting like a bunch of paranoid mob mentality nuts."Remember you said this when the first childgets hurt

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

So, should we annihilate everything and everyone that can or does hurt a child? How far do you want to carry your irrationality? I guess we should ban all cars so none will be killed in them or by them. What about parents that abuse them? Let’s ban all parents. Really, how do you find your way though your house, let alone to a keyboard?

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

That's a little far Revo. If a coyote is attacking my child, I'll kill the coyote. It's that simple.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

How gd? Are you gonna shoot it? Hope you are a crack shot. But that is the extreme I am talking about. I would defend to the death anything that attacks my child as well, and I am sure that any sane parent would. But, some of these people are ready to shoot anything that moves if it looks like a coyote. And that, is a LOT far.As with any wild animal, keeping it out of your “living area” is a matter of proper prevention. But don’t get made at nature of you decide to let the nice “ones” in and some “bad ones” follow.

By: gdiafante on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"How gd? Are you gonna shoot it? Hope you are a crack shot."I was a Marine, lol. But I understand what you're saying.

By: TRHJR on 12/31/69 at 6:00

lou-trob-tribe.... why don`t u three commies call the "messiah" o bama,,, to crawl in here and rid these beast.... u know he can... he says he can !!!! what a - wipes....

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thanks for the valuable input JR. Don’t think the “nut cases” where well represented here. But, now they are.

By: kns on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Thank you, everyone... we know this is a very serious subject, but we haven't laughed so hard in a month!

By: ycartrob on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Know what we gots in South Nashville? Chupacabra!

By: agull4u on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Have you ever layed on your couch all night every night waiting for your beloved pet to come back home? Afraid that you might not be there when he comes home but never comes home because a coyote carried him away from your deck. Try having a heartbreak for awhile instead of a laugh!

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

agu114u – Sorry for your loss. But, it is your responsibility to provide a safe envrioment for your pet. Don’t blame the coyote for being a coyote.

By: grapa on 12/31/69 at 6:00

'...some of the wealthiest of neighborhoods..."Now, what does this have to do with anything! Do they get special mentioning?

By: WickedTribe on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Well grapa, it's because coyotes are supposed to respect the wealthy neighborhoods and only stalk the poor people.

By: bfra on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Killing a coyote that is threatening people or pets, is providing a safe environment, thus a 410 with game load is always handy.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Walking thru your yard is not threatening. Shooting a gun inside the city limits is, however, a hell of a lot more dangerous and threatening.

By: bfra on 12/31/69 at 6:00

I don't shoot inside the city limits. I also, do not shoot at anything I don't eat or is not threatening.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Then, I guess the article really doesn’t apply to you, does it?

By: bfra on 12/31/69 at 6:00

IMO, the article applies to any & everyone where coyotes are present! Coyotes are not that new in this area, just more of them each year.

By: revo-lou on 12/31/69 at 6:00

More coyotes, more reports, or more land taken that they lived on? But, I know, it is only a coyote, so who cares

By: Funditto on 12/31/69 at 6:00

"By: grapa on 9/12/08'...some of the wealthiest of neighborhoods..."Now, what does this have to do with anything! Do they get special mentioning?"I agree! I mean don't those coyotes realize rich people love their pets more than poor people? Of all the nerve...

By: nashvillecoyotes on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Very informative site about the coyotes in Nashville. Includes sightings and hot spot areas of coyotes.www.nashvillecoyotes.com