Greg Tanner and his family live a few hundred yards west of Orme Park. In January Tanner heard some unconfirmed reports of coyote sightings by neighbors on Elkmont whose properties abut the creek that runs through the park. Hearing the reports reminded Tanner of a time a few years ago when a neighbor’s daughter witnessed what she described as “a small German Shepherd” killing her cat in their backyard early one morning.
“Based on this activity,” Tanner says, “I thought it would be interesting to see if I could capture the real culprit on film.”
In mid-February Tanner placed a digital infrared trail camera along the creek between Monroe Drive and Orme Park. The first photos he got were of a small, Airedale-type dog that could have been mistaken for a coyote from a distance.
“I continued checking the camera and captured images of squirrels, my neighbor’s new cat…then a flash of a big bushy tail,” Tanner says.
That’s when the plot thickened.
“I decided to leave the camera up just to see what we would get,” Tanner says. “I figured we’d see raccoons, opossums, maybe even neighborhood kids.”
Tanner didn’t have to wait long before hitting pay dirt.
“Last night I retrieved the SD card and brought it back to the house,” Tanner told The Voice on February 28. “When I plugged it into the computer I first saw what I expected: squirrels, birds, the neighbor’s cat – then the next six frames were clearly the coyote.”
Tanner says he hopes his captured images serve as a wake-up call to neighbors who sometimes let their small pets roam free at night.
“Coyotes are here to stay,” Tanner says, “and if they’re eating rodents behind the restaurants and Ansley area grocery stores that border the creek, that’s one thing. I’m just glad I don’t have small pets to worry about. Anyone who does should really keep them indoors at night.”
In addition to promoting neighborhood vigilance, Tanner says he and his wife are using the experience as a lesson in urban wildlife for their two young sons.
“My eight year old, Duncan, excitedly asks every night, ‘What was on the camera today, Dad?’” Tanner says. “It’s becoming a pre-bedtime viewing event several times each week.”
You can see the images taken by Tanner’s video camera below.
For more information on why we see coyotes in urban neighborhoods and some best practices to help us coexist with them, read VHCA board president Jack White’s related article.