Coyotes in Bristol
Local coyote populations have been brought to my attention when we received several calls from local residents who were concerned about recent coyote sightings. These calls ranged from the Virginia High School area to the Tri Cities Airport area. Our own wildlife monitoring camera has shown footage of coyotes near Steeles Creek Park. Coyotes range widely and are undoubtedly present through our entire region. A coyote sighting even made the news in our region. A news article run on October 20th of 2013 by WCYB (http://www.wcyb.com/news/coyotes-sighted-in-bristol-womens-front-yard/22535646) described a coyote sighting by Karen Orfield who lives off Old Airport Road. Mrs. Orfield was concerned that coyotes could attack her or her neighbors.
While populations of some wildlife species in the Bristol Tennessee/Virginia area have declined over the years, others have increased significantly. Coyotes are certainly one of the latter, having not only reintroduced themselves to the region, but seeming to thrive and find homes in both urban and rural settings. According to the Tennessee Wildlife Resource agency, coyotes were not seen east of the Mississippi between 1900 and 1965. In the 1960’s and 1970’s they moved quickly eastward and are now increasing in population in Middle and Eastern Tennessee. Coyote populations are expected to continue to rise in our region.
Coyotes are opportunistic. This means that they can switch from one prey species to another depending on abundance and relative difficulty of capture. Foods taken by individual coyotes also varies depending on the personal preference of the coyote. Popular foods include rodents, rabbit, deer, livestock, insects, birds, persimmon, and other vegetation. The presence of deer in coyote diet may or may not indicate predation of deer. The studies that listed deer as a coyote foodstuff were done during hunting season. Tradionally, hunters leave parts of the deer in the forest after field dressing.