UNCW professors conducting coyote survey in New Hanover County

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Getting pictures of coyotes from viewers is a frequent occurrence here at WECT.

"Another professor and I always hear about coyotes. It's in the newspaper, on neighborhood apps, TV. Clearly, there are people talking about coyotes in the area," said Dr. Rachel Urbanek, a professor of wildlife ecology at UNCW. "I think people are talking about it because they are a new animal in our area, compared to a deer."

N.C. Wildlife officials have called New Hanover County the perfect storm for coyotes to thrive. There are waterways and flat areas, development that keeps them on the move, and abundant food sources.

Given all the talk, sightings and interactions with coyotes in the New Hanover County area, Urbanek and another professor, Chris Dumas, secured a community grant from UNCW to conduct a survey of 4,000 citizens.

In 1983, coyotes were only found in five of our state's 100 counties.

In 1990, they were spotted in 34 counties, including Brunswick.

Four years later, coyotes were found in 61 counties, including Bladen and Columbus and in 2003, coyotes were found in every NC county except Dare on the Outer Banks.

"Knowledge obtained from this research will help managers understand the experiences, opinions, and concerns of county residents regarding coyotes and may be used to improve coyote management," said Urbanek.

Through tax records, the citizens were chosen at random and asked questions about their opinion of the animal, their knowledge of coyotes, if they have had any interactions with them and what they think should be done.

"We are not trying to make management decisions," Urbanek said. "We just want to see what people know and if more management needs to be done, here are the options. Is it just more public education, or does a culling from the USDA need to be done?"

Laws for hunting and trapping coyotes vary depending on if you are inside or outside the city limits.

In the City of Wilmington, it is illegal to discharge a firearm, so you cannot shoot them. There is no city ordinance against using a bow and arrow, but you would need to check with your homeowner's association.

You can legally trap them during trapping season, which runs Dec. 1-Feb. 28.

If you live outside city limits and see a coyote on your land, you can either shoot it or trap it during trapping season. Outside of trapping season, the only way you can trap is with a depredation permit, according to N.C Wildlife.

The professors say the survey will wrap up this fall. They will then present their findings to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.

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