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Sounding the alarm
Coyotes are making their presence known in Farragut


Wile E. Coyote is not a laughing matter for one Fox Den woman.

Nathalia Scotes, wife of Fox Den subdivision homeowners association president Ed Scotes, is sounding the alarm that coyotes are in Fox Den and something should be done.

“Several of our neighbors have told us their pets are missing,” Scotes told farragutpress in a telephone interview, adding her daughter, who lives off Grigsby Chapel Road, opened her garage door only to see a coyote standing in the driveway.

“[Coyotes] are in Fox Den, along the walking trail that runs behind St. John Neumann School and to I-40,” she said. “There are warning signs along the trail advising walkers coyotes are in the area.”


But Scotes’ warning is probably several years too late, as Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokesman Allen Ricks said the animals have been prolific in East Tennessee for a long time now.

“[Coyotes] were once kept out of this area because they couldn’t get across the Mississippi River,” he said. “Then people began building bridges — the first was built in 1845 and now more than 200 bridges span the Mississippi River — and some fox hunters thought it would be a good idea to import coyotes into East Tennessee to help train their foxhounds — not a good idea.”

As for the missing pets, Ricks agreed that coyotes would prey upon cats and small dogs that are left unattended.

“Other than rabbits and small game, coyotes are predators that would feed on a cat or small dog left out unattended. But it’s against state law to leave your pets outside unleashed unless it’s in a fenced yard,” he said. Ricks added that foxes also would prey on the same pets and East Tennessee has a large population of those, too.

Ricks added Tennessee has a year-round open hunting season on coyote and fox.

“The best way to get rid of them is to either shoot or trap them,” he said.

But Farragut and most urban/suburban areas have ordinances that prohibit discharging firearms within Town boundaries. However Ricks said no city or municipality could legislate against a person’s right to hunt wherever he wants with permission.

Scotes said that hunting the animals was something no one would want to do, but added that talks with Knox County animal control personnel were fruitless as they had no solution to control coyotes.

Knox County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Ben Harkins said an officer would probably respond to a call about a coyote if a danger were present, otherwise there was nothing the sheriff’s office could do about the pest.

“The sheriff’s office would refer the complainant to T-W-R-A that is better equipped to deal with animal complaints of this nature,” Harkins said.

Harkins, addressing TWRA’s contention hunting was allowed with permission anywhere in the state, said the sheriff’s office would respond if someone called with a complaint about gun fire.

Town attorney Tom Hale said other than opting out of the “guns in parks” legislation coming out of the state legislature allowing permitted citizens to carry a handgun in parks and on walking trails, the Town hasn’t really dealt with any firearms-related issues.

Town ordinances state no firearm can be discharged within 600 feet of a residence by other than authorized personnel, which raises the question of whether that would include hunting on public land or on a person’s private property within the confines of Farragut.

Researchers in New York City and Chicago have concluded that coyotes — yes, coyotes are in both cities — have a tendency to become bolder toward humans the more they come in contact with each other. Incidents have been documented where aggressive coyotes have taken small animals off the leash or attacked children and adults. Most attacks on adults have been warded off with shouts and stones.

And that is another concern Scotes has with the animals.

“I’m concerned the coyotes will attack a small child,” she said. “That’s why I want to get the word out.”

According to TWRA, coyotes may be hunted on private land with written permission from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. A licensed big game hunter may hunt with what is legal during the particular big game season. If not licensed to big game hunt, hunters may use shotguns with No. 4 shot or smaller, rimfire rifles muzzleloaders, archery, shotguns with T (0.20 inch diameter) or smaller shot. Posession of firearms is prohibited while chasing coyote with dogs from the first Saturday in November through the end of the deer season.

 

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