ARGO, Ala. (WIAT) — A central Alabama homeowner is warning others about locking pet doors after a coyote entered his family home and killed a pet cat over the weekend.
Roland Collins said he woke up to a loud noise in his basement in the early hours of Sunday morning. He lives near Argo just inside St. Clair County.
“I’m hard to wake up, so I knew it was something pretty serious, and my dog jumped up and started growling,” said Collins.
After grabbing a pistol, Collins walked down the stairs and opened the door to his garage. He told WIAT he found his cat, Sunny, dead on the floor and a coyote standing close.
“There it was, right in front of me, looking straight at me. The cat was laying on the floor,” said Collins.
Wildlife officers believe the coyote likely followed the cat through a pet door. Collins said the animal missed the door in the effort to escape.
“Turned over shelves, knocked stuff all over the floor, I’m still standing there I guess with my mouth open in my underwear,” Collins joked.
The homeowner said eventually the coyote became cornered and its only way out would have been through Collins’ legs.
“I just stepped around the corner and shot,” said Collins.
According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, coyotes are often attracted by a food source.
“You need to keep your doggy doors closed especially at night and don’t feed your animals outside,” said Collins.
Collins believes his two other cats, which went missing, were also killed.
Neighbors have reported hearing the animals howling at night. Other cities have dealt with coyotes in recent years.
Marianne Hudson with DCNR said that the coyotes are adaptable and are not desperate for food or space. She told WIAT the animals are opportunistic and quick to take advantage of an easy meal.
Collins will miss his cat but is counting his blessings that he wasn’t hurt.
“I don’t know if you call it shock or awe or what but I don’t think I had time to be scared until it was over with, and then I got a little shaky,” said Collins.
Here are some additional safety tips from Marianne Hudson with DCNR:
- A dog door is an open entrance to your home. They occasionally admit raccoons, skunks, coyotes, snakes, unwelcome dogs and cats, and even burglars.
- Coyotes are often attracted by a food source. To discourage them from entering your property, be sure that you are not intentionally or unintentionally offering food. Dog or cat food left outside, and even the cats themselves, are a food source for the coyotes.
- In this instance, it’s very likely that the coyote chased the cat into the house through the dog door.
- Smelly trash cans and odoriferous grills are also likely to attract coyotes.
- Your neighbor’s habits of leaving pet food or pet cats outside will also attract coyotes to your property. Community effort is important.
- If you see a coyote, spook it away by hollering and waving your arms – just as you would drive away a stray dog. Hazing efforts like these must be consistent and should occur each time it’s sighted.
- If you live in an area where shooting is permitted and its safe to do so, landowners should note that it is legal to shoot coyotes all year.
- Property owners can also contact and hire permitted nuisance wildlife control operators for assistance and coyote removal.