A good Friend of Unfair Park has been yammering for weeks about coyotes roaming around White Rock Lake. And while that isn't uncommon, it does seem as there have been more sightings than usual, especially near the Bath House Cultural Center at dusk. Which comes as no surprise to the folks over at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Because just in time for Valentine's Day, it's the peak of coyote mating season.
"They tend to breed from January through May, the peak being in mid-February," says Brett Johnson, an urban wildlife biologist with the department. "Because they're looking for a mate, they tend to be more active, visible and vocal this time of year. "
Invariably, with more sightings come increased concern about whether Lakewooders should fear for their pets -- or their own well-being. But Johnson and other experts say there's no reason to fear coyotes, just as long as you don't leave food around. (White Rock photographer J.R. Compton says, matter of fact, some misguided soul strung up store-bought chickens for the beasties).
In the rare cases when coyotes lose their fear of humans, the city might trap the animal. But Kent Robertson, division manager for Dallas Animal Services, says he hasn't gotten any recent calls about problems with coyotes at White Rock.
"We support peaceful co-existence," he says. "We educate, work with several organizations like the DFW Wildlife Coalition, go out and meet with the neighborhood association and make sure they're not leaving garbage out, because it's all about the food source. If we do have a coyote that decides he's not gonna be afraid of people anymore and jumps a fence, takes a puppy, then we hire a professional trapper to come in and trap that specific coyote."
One last interesting coyote tidbit that speaks to their success as a species: Widespread trapping only makes them more populous.
"There have been municipalities that have tried to trap them out of existence, but their numbers grew exponentially," Robertson says. And why is that? According to Johnson, the biologist, when the population decreases while the amount of food remains the same, the animals' litters automatically grow larger.
"They're not going anywhere," Robertson says, "So we just promote trying to get along with them."