Coyote prime suspect in sheriff's missing Siamese cat

July 21, 2011 at 10:49 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

In the last year, deputies with the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office have trapped at least 24 coyotes across the parish but small animals are still being reported missing in the Willowdale area.

One of the pets that has recently disappeared was Sheriff Greg Champagne’s 14-year-old Siamese cat.

“I have recently learned of at least three cats disappearing in the Willowdale area along Beaupre Drive, including our own cat who we usually let out only for short periods,” Champagne said. “The animal weighed 13 pounds.”

There have been a wide range of reports that coyotes are invading what was once considered to be quasi-urban areas in Jefferson, Plaquemines and St. Charles parishes. Champagne said that deputies in the Sheriff’s Office Marine Division have been tasked with catching coyotes in St. Charles, and have trapped at more than 20 in the last year.

Coyotes have threatened small pets for the last year and a half, Champagne said. The first reports of small dogs and cats disappearing came out of St. Rose in the wooded area behind Bar None subdivision. Soon thereafter, reports began to come in from virtually all areas of the parish, including Montz, Ama, Willowdale, Killona and Bayou Gauche.

“From that point on, deputies in the marine unit began an effort to trap the coyotes and we focused on St. Rose and Willowdale because that is where the thickest concentrations seemed to be,” Champagne said. “We were successful in trapping over 20 in the last year and a half.”

The marine division was so successful that Champagne offered to trap coyotes for other agencies.

“I knew that the coyotes were not all gone, but I thought we had done a good job in thinning their numbers,” he said. “I have not heard coyotes myself recently nor had any recent reports of any pets being taken.

“Apparently, not everyone was reporting this activity to us.”

Champagne found out that coyotes were still a threat during the Louisiana Catfish Festival, when he accidentally left his cat outside before heading to the festival with his wife.

“We left for the festival around 6 p.m. and returned around 11 p.m. and we realized that the cat was nowhere to be found,” Champagne said.

After searching for the cat, Ceasar, Sunday morning, Champagne began to fear the worst because he said the cat would never leave his yard.

“My wife began to talk to neighbors and we quickly learned of two other cats that have disappeared in the same mysterious way in the last couple of months,” Champagne said.

After sending out an e-mail alert about the missing pets, Champagne said he heard from a handful of people who had seen coyotes or have had pets disappear.

One reason for the abundance of coyotes is that they have no natural predators and reproduce frequently. And while they have taken and killed pets from yards, Champagne is worried that they might attack young children.

“Sheriffs from all over the U.S.A. have told me of coyote problems in their counties and the Internet is full of stories now about coyotes approaching and even attacking children,” Champagne said. “This is my big fear now.
“Everyone needs to be aware that these animals are very smart and sly. They will roam through neighborhoods after dark looking for small pets, which make an easy meal for them.”

If anyone has a pet turn up missing or sees a coyote, contact the Sheriff’s Office.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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