It's the 'dog' days of August – not coyote days
Something in south PTC is eating pets, even a baby deer; resident blames coyotes, but county thinks it’s more likely a pack of dogs
There was a report last week of the partial remains of a domesticated cat and a small deer, perhaps a fawn, found in the yard of a Peachtree City resident in the area of Crosstown Road and Robinson Road.
Officials with Fayette County Animal Control say the find is clear evidence that the owners of cats or other small pets should be wary of letting them roam free.
It was nearly a week ago that Glenda Lohmann’s neighbor on Summit Walk found the partial remains of a friend’s cat near the driveway in her front yard. Then, two days later, Lohmann found the partial remains of a young deer, also in multiple locations around her front yard.
She found an ear behind the shrubs in one location, the skull behind another area of shrubs and a part of the carcass weighing approximately 30-40 pounds in yet another location in the yard.
Animal Control Director Fred Sisson said the report like the one filed in Peachtree City, one with more than one dead animal found close together in a short period of time, is the first of its type that he can recall.
The discovery of the partial remains of the deer was possibly the work of a stray dog that feasted on a fawn or young doe that had been hit by a vehicle, he said.
Even the partial remains of the cat found nearby was likely the work of a dog, since coyotes, the presumed culprit, are very elusive and display markedly different feeding patterns, Sisson said.
“Coyotes will usually take everything. If any parts of the animal remain that usually indicates the feeding of a stray dog,” Sisson explained. “A pack of coyotes could go for a fawn or a young doe, but they are so opportunistic they would probably go for something dead, like a deer that had been hit by a vehicle. However, animals like cats and rabbits are high on their menu. And a stray dog or a coyote will eat almost anything.”
Lohmann said she has lived in the Robinson Road area for 22 years and had not seen anything like what was found last week. Nor had she seen wild dogs, or even strays.
All the dogs are only seen with their owners, Lohmann said, noting her close proximity to the cart path that leads to the adjacent Braelinn Recreation Center and nearby Oak Grove Elementary School, areas often frequented by residents and their dogs.
Commenting further on the discovery and its implication, Sisson cautioned residents about the need to make sure where their pets are located. Sisson said the best thing residents can do is to make sure that their animals are not running loose.
Fayette County residents often report seeing foxes, and sometimes bobcats, but Sisson said those animals, unlike coyotes, do not hunt in packs. And neither of those animals could take down a small deer.
As for the increases in wildlife seen increasingly in populated areas both in the Fayette County area and across the country, Sisson said that is due to the continued encroachment of human populations into territory once claimed by the wildlife now seen in increasing numbers by their human neighbors.
Case in point, Sisson said he has seen reports indicating that the coyote population in Georgia has increased dramatically in the past 15 years. And in places such as Fayette County where coyotes are not hunted, that population can grow unabated.
“And coyotes are very adaptable. The smaller the patch of woods available to them, the more they have to adapt. And we will see more of them because there are fewer places for them to hide,” Sisson said.
But what about the sightings of other, larger animals in the Fayette County area? Sisson said bear have occasionally been sighted, though usually only in river basins. And very sporadically, the department has received reports of very large cats, usually in south Fayette near the Flint River basin. None of those infrequent reports have been verified, Sisson said.
The one example of wildlife that presents the greatest danger, at least for humans, are the ubiquitous deer that can be seen all over the county.
“Overall, deer present the biggest problem for traffic accidents,” Sisson said.