, 2014

On the hunt: Days and nights may
be numbered for Irvington coyotes

by Audrey Thomasson

IRVINGTON Residents in Irvington are worried about an increase in coyotes living near their homes and recent attacks on household pets.

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IRVINGTON—Residents in Irvington are worried about an increase in coyotes living near their homes and recent attacks on household pets.

During the public comments section at a town council meeting last week, a citizen reported a coyote fatally attacked a dog and wounded another within town limits. In addition, the coyotes have scared young children.

Representatives of a local homeowners association said they would like to hire someone to hunt the coyotes living near their neighborhood. They asked council for a special exception or amendment to an old town ordinance that prevents hunting within 1,000 yards of homes and businesses.

According to town attorney Wes Charlton, because coyotes are considered a nuisance animal, state law allows open and continuous hunting. However, he said the town’s ordinance would have to be amended or a special exception granted in order to allow hunting.

“Everyone is in favor of it,” said Charlton. “We’re looking into how can we do this properly. But it will take several months to amend the ordinance.”

Coyotes exist throughout Lancaster County, but in recent years their numbers are increasing, according to game warden Ken Williams.

“There are two species of coyotes that have come into our area over the past several years. One is from the north and another from the south and they seem to be meeting up in the mid-Atlantic area,” said Williams.

He noted that with the exception of Irvington, there are no local laws against hunting them near homes day or night, except on Sundays.

“We are never going to get rid of them,” he said. “They are looking for something to eat. If you have animals, don’t feed them outside. Also, keep small pets indoors. Coyotes hunt at the edge of daylight and edge of dark. That’s when you’ll see them.”

Williams suggested hiring a licensed nuisance trapper who will come in and trap coyotes and then euthanize them.

Trapper Tim Pate of Northumberland County does contract work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and helps area residents as well.

He has been called to remove anything from squirrels in an attic to snakes, raccoons and coyotes. “I charge extra for skunks because there are additional risks involved,” he said.

Coyotes roam in pairs but can be found in packs of up to three or four, he said. “They roam over long distances and can be in White Stone one day and in Warsaw by the next morning.”

Pate sets traps for up to 10 days, but cautions homeowners to warn their neighbors so that domesticated animals are contained while the traps are set in the neighborhood.

Since the traps must be checked daily, his rates depend on the distance he must travel.

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