Residents alarmed after spotting coyotes in West Hills neighborhood

People in the neighborhood said they would stay more aware of their surroundings moving forward.
Coyotes spotted in West Knox neighborhood
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:57 AM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Residents in a West Knoxville neighborhood took to social media after spotting coyotes out in broad daylight.

According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, it isn’t as uncommon as one might think. Matt Cameron with TWRA said that coyotes tend to be in urban and suburban areas, so people shouldn’t be surprised if they come across one.

“Coyotes are a lot more common than people realize,” Cameron said. “They’re probably the most widespread mammal in North America, at least the most widespread K-9 in North America, so we find them in places where we wouldn’t expect to see them-that is, in and around urban/suburban settings.”

However, people in West Hills hope they don’t see more of their new neighbors. Sarah Cox told WVLT News that she had never seen one but would be on the lookout in the future.

“No, I’ve never seen anything. I come every day, and I’ve never,” Cox said. “We see a lot of dogs around here, so I’m really surprised that we’ve got them coming and so close to the park cause, there’s a lot of people here.”

Some people in the neighborhood have seen them and aren’t surprised the animals are out and about.

“Well, I’m not surprised ‘cause I’ve seen them out here plenty,” Louis Pavon said. “Yeah, they’re pretty relaxed; I’m sure they’re looking for food. I’m glad I don’t have my little dog around ‘cause I heard they like to eat the little dogs.”

Cameron said that coyotes are usually in the area because they are hungry and searching for food.

“A lot of times they’re getting some sort of meal that’s associated with humans, and they can be in our trash, that could be in the pet food that we leave outside, or it could be the animals like rats and mice that are utilizing our garbage or pet food that could be coming in and trying to use them as prey items,” said Cameron. ”They’re in and around neighborhoods, and that’s probably why they are there, and unfortunately, they’re probably not going anywhere cause they’re very adapted to Urban and Suburban areas.”

While the concern is low, coyotes prey upon small mammals to eat; therefore, they could show interest in unsupervised, small dogs. Cameron said that people are more likely to see the animals in the early morning or late in the evening.

“There probably is a little bit of concern with coyotes preying upon pets ‘cause they prefer small mammals to eat,” Cameron said. “Their natural diet is gonna be rabbits and mice; anything small and furry that they can catch and kill and eat, they will. So your small dog could certainly become a prey item for coyotes if your dog is left unsupervised.”

Since coyotes have adapted to humans, Cameron said it is essential that people haze them, letting the animals know that they need to leave.

“Throw things at them-sticks, rocks, and have noise makers,” Cameron said. “You can make a simple noise maker out of a can with a bunch of pennies in it-just any kind of unnatural noise to make that coyote feel unsafe around your home is gonna deter it from being around and should avoid negative human interaction.”

People in the neighborhood said they would stay more aware of their surroundings moving forward.

“We’ll be more vigilant when we’re out walking or out playing particularly to children,” Cynthia Chapman said.

People are also encouraged to carry squirt guns or peppery spray if they come in contact with the coyotes.

More information about coyotes can be found on the Tennessee state website here.

The coyotes were spotted in broad daylight in a West Knoxville neighborhood.
The coyotes were spotted in broad daylight in a West Knoxville neighborhood.(Elizabeth Jones)