Several pets have been reported missing in neighborhoods around the parish and Animal Control Director Angie Robert said coyotes are the likely culprit.
Coyotes have been blamed for missing pets across the country and Robert said the only reason more cases are being reported now is because owners are letting their small cats or dogs stay outside.
“We’re building all around the parish and drawing the coyotes out and into the neighborhoods. If a pet is outside, that’s offering the coyotes a food source,” Robert said. “The coyote doesn’t know that it’s taking your pet, they just think it’s a meal. They are scavengers.”
But it’s not just small pets that are in danger. Robert said she has seen a case where coyotes took a medium-sized pit bull.
“They are pack animals, so it doesn’t really matter how big the animal is,” she said. “These are situations where you have five to seven coyotes going after one pet.”
Robert said coyotes are prevalent year round, but that they may appear more common in the summer because the offspring are getting bigger. She added that coyotes can be out at all times of the night and day.
“I have walked in on a coyote in broad daylight that was 20 feet from me,” she said.
Robert said the best thing residents can do to avoid their pets becoming a coyote’s next meal is keep them inside.
“If you keep (pets) outside they will become a part of the food chain,” she said. “People should keep garbage and any potential food source, like pets, inside or protected. When there are no food sources, coyotes will no longer go there.”
But Robert stresses that there are not more coyotes now than there have been in the past. They are just becoming more visible.
“They are not in an overabundance – they have always been there. But the more things we start building, the less habitat they have,” she said. “They realize that a house cat is a very easy meal. They are just doing what Mother Nature is telling them to do. We have to outsmart them.”
Robert said that if someone spots a coyote, they should call trained professionals.
“They can be dangerous and they carry diseases, such as rabies,” she said. “People need to stay away from them and not try to take care of the problem on their own.”