Residents in the Decatur and Druid Hills communities are in disarray on how to deal with the coyote problem in the metro Atlanta area.
Coyotes convened on the city around 1980 and have terrorized neighborhoods, mostly attacking cats and small dogs. Residents have tried different solutions to take care of the problem, including trapping the coyotes.
That’s where the some of the controversy comes in, according to Druid Hills Civic Association board member Robert Ballou.
“When coyotes are trapped they’re not released anywhere else. They’re killed,” Ballou said. “The trapper traps them, and then he takes them to his farm and shoots them.”
Ballou said trappers have pulled approximately 150 coyotes a year out of the metro Atlanta area. There are animal rights groups that are against the method of trapping and feel coyotes should be left alone. However, residents fear that if coyotes are left unmolested then they will do more than attack pets.
“We will end up with a situation that they have out west, especially in California, and that is attacks small children in backyards,” Ballou said. “Druid Hills, Decatur and all these communities in town are heavily wooded. There is a fear that if we don’t do anything we will end up with attacks on humans.”
The Druid Hills Civic Association will host a meeting on Jan. 29 to discuss the coyote issue. The meeting will feature three speakers, including Chip Elliott, a coyote trapper who has been working in the metro Atlanta area for more than 20 years. He was hired in November by private citizens to trap coyotes in two locations in Druid Hills. Eight coyotes were trapped from November to December and the trapping is now over.
Chris Mowry, an associate professor and head of the biology department at Berry College and former resident of Druid Hills, will also speak. Mowry has studied coyotes in the southeast and Yellowstone National Park, and is currently talking with local and state officials about a proposal to study coyotes in Atlanta.
Mary A. Paglieri, a consultant with Little Blue Society in the San Francisco area, is the final speaker. The society specializes in human-animal conflict resolution; Paglieri is the director of program design and implementation. The meeting will also include a Q&A session.
Ballou said the coyote population is increasing and the community is either going to do nothing or do something.
“And that something includes trapping,” he said. “Other people believe doing something means keeping your pets up or your dog food out of your back yard.”
Ballou added that the state of Georgia, DeKalb County and the cities of Decatur and Atlanta are staying out of the issue. Currently, there are no laws prohibiting trapping.
“It’s extremely controversial and contentious,” he said. “If the city or county spent money on doing anything it would annoy the other side. So, if the city of Decatur hired a trapper that would really irritate the live-and-let-live crowd.”
On the other side, the people who feel trapping is the only solution are annoyed and irritated at the city and county for not doing anything.
“There are very strong feelings on both sides,” Ballou said.
Ballou believes the city or county won’t do anything to stop this issue until a child is attacked.
“Right now they don’t see any harm being done,” he said. “No one is suffering.”
The 7:30 p.m. meeting will be held at The Church of the Epiphany, located at 2089 Ponce de Leon Avenue, Atlanta. For more information email Robert Ballou at email@example.com.