Increase in coyote sightings around Lawton

Increase in coyote sightings around Lawton

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) - Wildlife officials say coyote sightings are becoming more frequent in the city of Lawton and also a nuisance to neighbors.

A woman living in a neighborhood near Eisenhower High School said she saw a coyote snatch her dog from her front yard.

Laira Hendrickx said she had just gotten home from work and was letting her dog out, just like she does every night, when the coyote attacked.

“I was sitting right there and then I heard her yelp,” said Hendrickx. “I ran all the way down the street, to the high school.”

But Hendrickx is not the only resident whose pet was snatched.

“There’s a lot of small animals, pets, cats, dogs, that are missing, that are not around anymore," said Steve Webb, a neighbor. "They have a food supply that’s ample for them, coyotes. So, there’s no reason for the coyotes to leave.”

Webb said he has had a close encounter with a coyote, as well.

“A coyote just sat on his rear haunches and just stared, kind of like he wasn’t going to go anywhere," said Webb. "He wasn’t afraid. That kind of worries you when a wild animal is not afraid of human beings.”

Webb said he believes part of the problem is due to residential expansion across the city.

“We’re encroaching into their neighborhood, where they live, and that’s some of the problem," said Webb. "They’re so used to us now, they don’t think about it.”

There are options for people living in urban areas dealing with coyotes, like contacting a nuisance wildlife control operator, which are people permitted by the wildlife department to come out and trap and remove nuisance wildlife that are causing problems.

“We maintain a list of those nuisance wildlife control operators on our website," said Don P. Brown, information specialist at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife. "It’s at www.wildlifedepartment.com and if you go on our homepage and search for nuisance wildlife, that list should pop up for you.”

Brown said those listed are businesses and they usually charge a fee for their services.

Wildlife officials recommend that if you have to let your pet outside, do so in a fenced in area and be present.

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