Coyote sighting prompts concern

From Staff ReportsOctober 24, 2008 

— A Carrboro alderman wants to educate local residents about coyotes after she saw one last week in UNC-Chapel Hill's Carolina North property.

Randee Haven-O'Donnell said she was in the woods with her dog about 11:30 a.m. when she saw the coyote up ahead chasing a squirrel.

"I recognized it right away," she said. "I was shocked."

Haven-O'Donnell was concerned because she had heard coyotes carry rabies and can attack small children. She contacted town officials.

Greg Kopsch, forest manager for Carolina North, had heard reports of coyotes in the area. He was initially concerned too, but after researching the issue, his opinion changed.

"Considering the volume of use, the near-constant foot traffic, and the kids walking to school in the Forest, coyotes have had plenty of opportunity to prey on humans and unleashed house pets," Kopsch said in an e-mail. "Seeing as how we have not had any recent reports of an attack and none of our longtimers here in Grounds can ever remember hearing of such an attack, we are not overly concerned about their presence. To the contrary, we are pleased to have this diversity in species."

Kopsch said he would support a public awareness campaign that says coyotes are part of the natural ecosystem. Haven-O'Donnell wants the town to work with Kopsch's department and post signs in the Carolina North woods telling people that coyotes have been seen there and what precautions they should take.

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