RSD trying to find way to take care of coyotes near City Park


Posted on April 1, 2014 at 5:17 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 1 at 5:20 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS — Two weeks ago, a couple lost its small dog when it was killed in City Park by coyotes. It was dragged back to the den, where bones from many other small animals were found.

The Recovery School District is responsible for the vacant modular units that have become the coyote den.

In a statement Tuesday, they said they have cut away the bushes around the units and mended the holes in the fence, but have not been able to trap the coyotes. They are now working with police, Homeland Security, City Park and the Pest and Termite Board on a solution.

The modular units are scheduled to be moved in June.

But viewers continue to call and post video of having close encounters with coyotes in their own backyards.

Last week Zeus, Hero and RBI ganged up on a coyote in their backyard.

"That's when I saw the dogs had something cornered by the fence and there was all this commotion," said Jessica Williams, a Lake Terrace resident. "He (the coyote) took off and he ran to one end of the yard and then he turned around and ran to the other end. Well then, he just jumped the fence."

The commotion happened in Lake Terrace a couple miles from the coyotes reported den in old school modular units where JFK High School used to be. One neighborhood over, in Lake Vista, there was another sighting.

"There were people walking around, you know, middle of the afternoon. It was like 2:30, 2:00 in the afternoon and he wasn't afraid of people at all. He was just out hunting," said Rod Branch, a Lake Vista resident.

He said another neighbor told him he saw a coyote in the same area on a different day. 

Another family from New Orleans East posted video on WWL's Facebook page of a coyote in its neighborhood. A person who works at the City Park stables says coyotes are spotted overnight eating garbage and leaving at dawn. Those who have seen them said they look like they are hunting and are malnourished.

WWLTV talked by phone to an expert trapper who thinks the coyotes are eating ducks in City Park, too. He sent us pictures of the huge problem in St. Charles Parish.

A Lakeview resident said that while he understands that coyotes can't live and hunt among populated neighborhoods, he hopes that they are not killed and that they are humanely trapped and brought back to their habitats before the floods.

But that is against state law. The licensed trapper said they have to be trapped in humane leg traps, not box traps, and then euthanized. Experts said relocation will cause territory fights resulting in coyote packs killing other packs. Moving the modular units, he says, will just cause them to relocate their den.

And one month from now, spring litters are due to bring scores more.

"I'm surprised that nothing's been done because there's little kids out here and toddlers and you get a pack of dogs and it could easily happen to a small child," Branch said, pointing to the park with children's toys in Lake Vista.

Full statement from the RSD:
“As you know from your reporting, the issue of coyotes in that area has been an issue that city park has been dealing with since Hurricane Katrina due to the reduced use of the grounds post storm. The RSD has gone to the site to cut vegetation and underbrush near the trailers to reduce hiding spaces and we’ve mended two small holes in our fences that divide the area between city park and the modulars on the former Kennedy site.  We worked with our grounds and maintenance contractor to attempt to trap the coyotes but have not had success with this method. We are working with Homeland Security, New Orleans City Park, NOPD and New Orleans Pest and Termite Board to come to solution on how to remove/destroy the animals since this is an issue that extends beyond the area of our modular facilities. We are on track to have the modular units removed by early June.”

– Cay Adams Kimbrell, RSD   Chief of Staff, External Affairs