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Coyote sightings prompt Richmond neighborhood meeting

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Neighbors from several Richmond communities will meet Wednesday night with state and city officials about coyote sighting in Richmond.

Coyotes can adapt to living anywhere, and often times go after small prey, like pet dogs, cats or rabbits, according to wildlife officials. After two coyotes killed a woman's pet dog in July, many people expressed the concerns for their own pet's safety.

Officials from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF), Richmond Animal Care and Control, and the James River Park System will take part in Wednesday's meeting and answer questions. Wednesday's meeting is scheduled to take place at the Patrick Henry School of Science on Semmes Avenue from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

"This species is primarily nocturnal, meaning they come out mostly at night; however just seeing them during the day is not a sign of rabies," a VDGIF spokesperson wrote online. "They are commonly seen during the day in urban and suburban areas and are usually attracted there by a food source or an easily accessed area to make a den such as under porches/decks, crawl spaces or out-buildings. The best way to prevent them from becoming a problem is to not give them a reason to come."

If you are feeding wildlife, stop. This will cause them to lose their natural fear of humans.

Keep trash inside until the morning of trash pick-up or place trash in an animal proof container, such as a metal trashcan with latches on the lids.

Do not leave pet food outside; keep pet feeding areas clean.

Remove bird feeders when problem species have been seen around them.

Close up all openings under and into your buildings. Animals look for places to den and raise their young – don’t give them that opportunity.

Clear fallen fruit from around trees.

Keep brushy areas in your yard cut down to prevent cover for coyotes.

Keep small pets inside and on a leash when outside; they may be viewed by a coyote as prey. Larger dogs are viewed as a threat particularly from January to June while mating and birthing pups.

Pass along this information to your neighbors. If anyone in the neighborhood is feeding wildlife directly, or indirectly, it can cause trouble for everybody.

Install coyote proof fencing to protect unsupervised pets.

It is illegal in the State of Virginia to trap and relocate an animal to another area.

Contact your local health department if animal exhibits signs of rabies such as stumbling, foaming at the mouth or aggression.

There is no state bounty for coyotes; contact your county administrator’s office to see if there is a local bounty.