TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - There’s been an increased number of sightings of coyotes in one East Texas city, and increased concern among citizens over their presence. The coyote sightings have been happening over the last two weeks in the Longview area.
And one environmental expert says there is a very good reason why the the animals are being seen in urban areas.
“These are highly adaptable organisms that we shouldn’t be surprised that they’re spreading everywhere,” says Doctor Scott Dyer, a LeTourneau University environmental biologist.
Dyer says there’s a simple reason we’re seeing more of theme: reproduction.
"We're about to enter the breeding season for coyotes. This is the point in time they they're really needing to build up some fat stores, develop their fur to get them through the winter. They basically have between 2 and 10 pups per year, so they're on the move right now," he says.
When a litter of pups needs to be fed, they may hunt around the clock.
Coyotes can easily thrive inside a city, and typically hunt small prey such as mice and rabbits. But a cat or a small dog, presents an easy opportunity.
"They're lazy like most carnivores, so they want to pick on prey that they have to spend the least amount of energy to get. It's not a big surprise to see them coming into our backyards," Doctor Dyer says.
And studies show something else surprising.
"As many as 10 percent of them interbreed with dogs," says Dyer.
And humans contribute to the problem.
"We also have garbage. Feeding pets outside. When prey is scarce, these are predators, carnivores that are looking for an easy meal," Dyer says.
Animal control officers say to keep small pets indoors during the most active periods for coyotes, which is dusk to dawn.
The City of Longview posted some tips for caution around coyotes at this link.