Thursday, September 27, 2012
Our Newcomer of the Month for September is Hidden Brook resident Karina Edwards, who recently moved to Signal Mountain from Decatur, Tenn.
The one thing she said she wishes she had been aware of as a newcomer is the presence of coyotes near residential areas. She said she is no stranger to living near wild animals, but in Decatur she could hear the coyotes howling and knew to keep Chester, her beloved cat of 10 years, indoors at night.
Chester recently disappeared, and after talking to her neighbors she was dismayed to find that many of them had also had animals go missing.
“I walk before daylight each morning, and I have observed the coyote and the fox,” said Edwards’ neighbor R. B. Sanders, a resident of Hidden Brook Lane. “I would recommend that small animals be put up at night, because they would definitely be prey for these.”
Edwards said one neighbor even claimed to have video footage of a dog playing with a coyote.
“It would have been nice if the vet had told us there were coyotes in the area and we should bring our cat in at night,” said Edwards. “It’s not something you just randomly say to the neighbors.”
Local vet Dr. Lena Van Horn of Signal Mountain Veterinary Clinic said she has yet to treat an animal with injuries that were clearly caused by a coyote, but she is aware of their presence and recommends cats as well as small breeds of dogs be kept indoors at night.
“The little dogs are what I worry about,” said Van Horn, as coyotes are fairly small and will typically stay away from larger breeds.
She said she has even heard of small dogs being picked up by large birds, such as hawks.
“Unfortunately, we moved into the forest [where wild animals live], and it’s always a concern,” said Van Horn, adding that not all animal disappearances can be attributed to coyote attacks. “It’s hard to prove without knowing for sure.”
Cats tend to wander and sometimes adopt a new family, she said. Edwards said she has another cat which she acquired in this manner. Van Horn said a client living in Hidden Brook brought in a stray cat that had been hanging around their home, and she discovered through the cat’s microchip that it actually belonged to a family just down the street.
“Cars are probably a bigger danger than coyotes would ever be,” Van Horn pointed out.
Also presenting a greater danger than coyotes are domestic cats, as she often treats animals with cat fight injuries. Snake bites occur fairly often as well, she said.
“Like kids, little animals shouldn’t be left outside by themselves,” said Van Horn, who recommends keeping small dogs fenced in if they must be left outdoors unattended.