Pet owners can take these precautions to protect their animals from coyotes, according to Aaron Henricks, a natural resource officer for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks:
- Leave coyotes alone.
- Keep dog food or other animal food inside.
- Make sure pets are inside at night and watch them closely while they're outside during the day, especially smaller pets that can be seen as prey for coyotes.
Susie Dillon usually let her cat, Johnny, wander the neighborhood during the night. Johnny would visit neighbors and tromp through the nearby Alvamar golf course, bringing home mice and other prey. In the morning, Johnny would be at Dillon's back door, ready to come inside.
But a few weeks ago, Johnny did not return. Several days later, Dillon said, she saw a coyote in her backyard.
Dillon is not the only resident of her Rodeo Drive neighborhood near Alvamar to mysteriously lose a pet.
She knows of at least 10 neighbors who have seen coyotes in their yards this month and just as many who have lost pets this year.
One recent morning, Dillon said, she even saw a coyote sitting on the sidewalk along Clinton Parkway.
"It's ridiculous," Dillon said. "Almost everyone has seen one or knows someone who has seen one."
Todd Olson, owner and operator of Critter Control, 3514 Clinton Parkway, said he receives complaints about coyotes and traps them in Lawrence from time to time.
Last year, he trapped a couple of coyotes on Orchards Golf Course, 3000 Bob Billings Parkway, after he heard reports of dogs being killed. He says he's now pursuing a coyote near Clinton Parkway and Lawrence Avenue.
Olson did say there is "certainly quite a population of coyotes" in the Lawrence area.
"As long as a coyote is acting normal - that is, running away from humans - that's fine," he said. "But when they become fearless, it's only a matter of time before a dog or cat gets injured."
Aaron Henricks, a natural resource officer with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, said coyote attacks likely are most prevalent in spring and summer because the animals are raising pups then.
He said the coyotes may view dogs as a danger to younger coyotes. And because coyotes are searching for food, cats and small dogs are easy targets, Henricks said.