Back in January, we noted that wild predators -- bobcats and coyotes, specifically -- were becoming more of a problem in places like Bellaire and West University. In Bellaire, a woman used a motion-sensing camera to videotape bobcats and coyotes coming to her yard and eating her pet ornamental deer.
Still, Bellaire and West U feel kind of suburban. And some experts said that the danger from the predators was higher because they lived near the greenbelt that is the Union Pacific railway / utility easement that parallels the West Loop.
But urbanites take note. If you think your pet is safe from predation in urban Montose as opposed to the savage wilds of West U, you are in potentially fatal error.
A reader sent us a flyer concerning the death of a cat named Alley. In the wee hours of last Thursday morning, Alley Cat was snatched from near its home on Morse between Westheimer and Fairvew. Alley's owner claims to have seen two coyotes running down the street, one of them clutching the beloved pet in its jaws, and Alley's mangled body was subsequently found two blocks away.
Apparently, Alley's owner's tale has met with some skepticism, because the flyer goes to some length to address the very idea that coyotes could be in a deeply urban neighborhood like Montrose. Might not the culprits have been huskies instead?
Hair Balls called Doug Steen, the assistant district supervisor at Texas Wildlife Services in College Station to find out.
Steen says it is absolutely possible that Alley was killed by coyotes. "Coyotes are extremely adaptable -- they can live anywhere from the wilds of western Canada and Alaska to every major metropolitan area in Texas," he says. "As a matter of fact, it's easier for them to thrive where people are because food is so abundant -- and that could be either pets or pet food."
Hair Balls noted that the area where Alley was killed was fairly close to the greenspace of Buffalo Bayou and several large cemeteries along Allen Parkway and wondered if that would abet a hungry coyote. Steen says that today's urban coyote doesn't even particularly need that much nature. Just a plain old neighborhood -- even one as urban as Montrose -- will do, he says.
"They are very, very good at what they do," he says. Nowadays, you can expect to find them everywhere except in a downtown-type scenario.
You can trap them and shoot them all you want, but more will always come. The best ways to ensure that they don't get your pets is to keep a close eye on them when they are outside -- one expert says to leash your cats. And you should never leave pet food outside, as coyotes see pets and pet food as one and the same.