Sandy Springs residents listen during a Dec. 18, 2013 presentation on coyotes held at Sandy Springs City Hall.
Sandy Springs residents listen during a Dec. 18, 2013 presentation on coyotes held at Sandy Springs City Hall.

A recent uptick in the reports of coyote sightings in metro Atlanta has left many Sandy Springs residents wondering what they can do.

When they attended a public meeting on the sightings at Sandy Springs City Hall on Dec. 18, they learned that coyotes might be here to stay. There are things residents can do to make coyotes warier about sniffing around residential areas, however.

“The state doesn’t trap coyotes,” said Don McGowan, a wildlife biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources who spoke at the meeting. “Eradication is not practical.”

Coyotes are no real threat to humans, and there have been no documented attacks in Georgia, McGowan said. They are a threat to small animals, like cats and some livestock.

Home owners associations can pay someone to trap them, he said. McGowan said coyotes caught in traps are almost always destroyed because they can’t legally be re-released into the wild due to the risk of the animals carrying rabies.

“A trapped coyote is going to be a dead coyote,” McGowan said.

Some local animal control agencies are licensed to trap and kill them, he said.

But trapping coyotes isn’t as simple as it might look, he said.

“A coyote will humble you,” McGowan said. “I’ve seen them dig up traps turn them over, and defecate on them.”

Coyotes succeed in urban areas because they are omnivores, meaning they can eat both meat and plant life. They’re highly adaptable, even though they are wary of humans.

DNR passed around a tip sheet to “haze” coyotes to make sure they retain their natural fear of humans. Methods include:

–          Standing tall and making noise until a coyote runs away. Don’t stop until the coyote leaves the area.

–          Pelting the coyote with sticks, rocks, cans and any other objects close at hand.

–          Using a noise maker like a whistle or air horn.

–          Spraying the coyotes with water or squirt guns.

Residents can also make their homes less attractive by keeping pet food and pets inside the house.

Jeff Harper, who lives in the Huntcliff Neighborhood, said he attended for informational purposes.

When asked if he was concerned about coyotes, Harper said, “Not in the least.”

“I think, like DNR says, you can’t get rid of them,” Harper said. “You have to learn to live with them.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of