No Cause for Alarm, but Watch for Coyotes in Braddock


County Wildlife Biologist, Victoria Monroe, has confirmed that, yes, we have had a County-wide population of coyotes since 2000. Coyotes are the only natural mid-sized predator in Fairfax County, and healthy adults will actively hunt fawns, yearling deer and small or injured adult deer. They can account for up to 60 percent of all fawn mortalities in a local deer population. It is possible that a family group of coyotes lives in the general area of Lake Accotink, among other locations. In fact, several have been seen in Kings Park.

The county population of coyotes is considered to be healthy. Coyotes rarely contract rabies and are not a rabies target species (unlike raccoons, bats or red foxes). Due to an overabundance of natural prey sources, coyotes do not generally pose a threat to humans or their pets. Red foxes are more likely to “stalk” cats or small dogs on private property than are coyotes.

Eastern coyotes do not generally exceed 60 pounds. Their appearance can make them seem larger due to thick undercoats, long legs and a deep chest. Coyotes are highly social, and considered to be intelligent wild canids. They form bonded pairs and the previous year’s young stay to help raise new litters. Coyotes have the most diverse array of vocalizations of any native mammal in North America.

The Fairfax County Wildlife Biologist provides the following advice:
        •As with all wildlife, coyotes should not be approached, touched, baited or fed. It is important to keep local wildlife “wild”.
        • Do not feed your pets outdoors. If you do, bring the food bowl in at night to reduce the likelihood of wildlife (primarily foxes and raccoons) being attracted to the food at night.
        • Keep your dogs on a leash when you go for walks off private property. This is County ordinance.
        •Coyotes belong to the canid family. It is important to “assert” your presence if you see one. Do not run. Make yourself appear larger than you are (puff up), wave your arms, and make noise.

Both Animal Control and the Wildlife Biologist provided additional links for anyone interested in more information. See:
        http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/living/animals/wildlife.
        http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/resources/archives/coyotes.htm
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/11/AR2006041101256.html
        http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes/tips/solving_problems_coyotes.html

Additional questions can be directed to Victoria.Monroe@fairfaxcounty.gov


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