In case you don’t have enough to worry about.
Now comes word that coyotes are on the move and reason enough now to keep your pets inside and/or shut up inside a lot. Otherwise, Fido and kitty may become dinner.
Forget the image of the bungling cartoon character Wil E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner. Remember the TV show’s jingle, “The coyote’s after you”?
Wile E. never caught the Road Runner. But his real-life brethren are making up for it these days.
Back in the ’90s I first heard of coyotes in the Big Elkin Creek bottom. About a half-mile from the creek I kept my Dalmatian on a line and with no fence at my storage building in the backyard during the daytime when I was at work.
So I asked a Wildlife Resources guy who lived nearby about a coyote threat. He assured me that coyotes were too timid to ever enter anyone’s yard.
I no longer buy that.
In December, Matt Settle posted a photo on the Internet taken by his game camera of a coyote strolling down the asphalt driveway in his front yard just before dawn. Matt is the son of Eddie Settle, the Wilkes County board chairman, and lives on a hill overlooking the Big Elkin.
The varmints who are native to the Great Plains began appearing in North Carolina in 1984, apparently released Down East by hunters, according to coyote expert Perry Sumner of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
They were in Alleghany County by 1990 and the Tri-Counties by 1994, according to the latest issue of “The Upland Gazette” wildlife newsletter. By 2003 they had spread across the state.
Coyotes will attack and eat our small dogs and cats in urban areas where they can find pet food and garbage in dense neighborhoods and despite the proximity of humans, warned “Upland,” which is published by Wildlife Resources.
I live on the ridge between the Big Elkin and Grassy creeks. The ridge is a crossroads as deer travel between creek bottoms. I can only wonder if coyotes are following.
Big-time hunter Scott Martin, whose house overlooks the Big Elkin and who produces the satellite-TV hunting show “Trophy Room Adventures,” said he shot a coyote near his house in December while deer hunting.
“You can hear them here behind the house most every night,” Martin said.
So let pets outside only with supervision, cautions The Humane Society, especially at night. Do not chain a dog outside and keep all pet food inside, they say.
I don’t keep a dog here any more, but one time I took my two Dalmatians down to Carter Falls on the Big Elkin. When the alpha dog started chasing a moth I knew I had lost control. The boys ran downstream and out of sight.
I walked up and down that holler calling them till dark. I trolled the roads after dark. No sign of them. I called down to the Settle place because they were headed in that direction. Again, no sign of them.
I was about to lock up the house and go to bed at 12:30 a.m. when I heard panting. Here they came, after more than eight hours on the lam.
If that happened today, I’d be sick with worry over coyotes in the creek bottom. I’d never let them off the leash down there.
Remember, “the coyote’s after you.”
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.