By Emma Buttell
Murders are occurring in the Irish Channel, but it is not exactly what you think. Wild coyotes are making their presence known in the Irish Channel. In the past few months, as reported by Fox8, WDSU, and WWLTV, coyote sightings and incidents have been on the rise. The Irish Channel is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in New Orleans that many families and pets call home. This is an ideal situation for the coyotes, who are scavengers for trash and small animals.
The recent sightings are a result of the animals being adjustable to any environment and of their fast reproductive rates, which aid in their population growth and success. Coyotes are beginning to colonize different urban areas all around the world. However, the Irish Channel is a perfect environment for them to thrive because of the pest population. Pest agencies, such as Orkin, claim that New Orleans is one of the most pest-infested cities in the United States. This status provides a steady stream of rats and mice to the coyotes.
Coyotes preying on the rats and mice does benefit pest control, but it also creates negative effects for residents such as increased interactions between wild animals and humans. Coyotes are opportunistic animals, which means they will also prey on small dogs, such as Dachshunds, and, in some extreme cases, people. Although it is very rare for coyotes to attack humans, it can happen if the coyotes become accustomed to non-threatening interactions with humans.This causes concern for Irish Channel residents. People have spotted coyotes roaming throughout the neighborhood at night scavenging for food, and some families say the coyotes are living directly under their house.
Area resident, Paul Thiels, is a Lusher dad and competitive runner. He regularly runs through the Irish Channel as the sun rises. Thiels says it is not at all uncommon to see several coyotes on the streets hunting in small packs. He says seeing them is “cool” but also more than a little “spooky,” especially when it is raining or foggy. When asked about whether he feels threatened, Thiels says, “I don’t fear them, really, but I wouldn’t want my kids to run across them alone at night.” Thiels says they have left him alone because he suspects they have plenty of food. He is not overly concerned about them and does not feel that any proactive steps should be taken to kill them.
How to handle the coyotes is creating controversy within the neighborhood and in the larger world. As coyote populations grow in urban settings, there are arguments among people about how to handle the situation. One option is lethal removal. However, this can be expensive and invasive. The traps that are set up can also catch neighborhood pets. The alternative option to this is to educate the public to have safe interactions or consider relocation. It is recommended that people “haze” the wild animals. This process includes scaring off the coyote by a large movement that signals the territory is already taken by a stronger predator. It is also recommended that people follow certain steps to handle coyotes that might reside around their residence. The main point is to not feed the coyotes. This can “domesticate” them in a way that eliminates their natural fear of humans. Relocation involves live trapping and moving the caught coyotes to a distant site. However, many coyotes will stray away from the release site and be killed be either cars or hunters.