City wildlife specialists have released a preliminary draft of their coyote management plan, and it includes a new ordinance banning feeding of wildlife in Dallas. Violators will be fined.
The new measures follow an incident May 3 in which a coyote grabbed a 2-year-old boy from his White Rock Valley porch and attempted to drag him away. Officials from Dallas Animal Services, Dallas Parks and Recreation and the United States Department of Agriculture say coyotes were attracted to the area due to “active feeding” by neighbors.
The multi-point plan is not yet available online but represents a comprehensive effort to deal with dangerous animals and educate city dwellers about keeping their families and pets safe from coyotes in parks and neighborhoods. Key points include reporting coyotes to the new hotline, “hazing” coyotes to make them uncomfortable around humans and keeping pets on leashes.
The sharpest teeth in the plan, aside from those for coyotes who attack humans, are for people who feed wildlife. The ordinance makes it an offense to make food available for animal consumption in a manner that creates a danger to public health or safety, destroys public or private property, causes more than ten adult animals to congregate or socializes wildlife to humans. The ordinance makes exceptions for wild bird feeders, permitting they do not overflow, and for feral cat colonies, which are permitted under a long-standing previous ordinance. Feral cat colonies are allowed because they help reduce the city’s rodent population. Feral cats may be fed if their colony has been registered with the city.
Neighbors may anonymously report neighbors via 311 for feeding wildlife.
Much of the new plan involves educating the public in ways to discourage coyotes from coming – and staying – close to homes and people. An example – “coyotes have a sweet tooth,” says Brett Johnson, urban biologist with the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. “They love persimmons and crab apples.” Homeowners are encouraged to keep these and other fallen fruit picked up from yard floors. Johnson said his and other agencies are also working with groups which aid the homeless to clear encampments from surrounding areas and rehome these individuals. Rotting food and trash create a perfect environment for attracting coyotes, he said.
The coyote hotline, 469-676-9813, will continue and should be called for coyote sightings of a non-threatening nature. Aggressive coyotes should be reported to 911.
The new anti-feeding ordinance has been submitted to the city attorney’s office for review. Dallas’ Quality of Life, Arts and Culture committee will review the ordinance on June 21.