HomeOutdoorsNewsLive in Kentucky? Expect Increased Coyote and Bear Activity

Live in Kentucky? Expect Increased Coyote and Bear Activity

by Jon D. B.
Kentucky coyote and black bear
Coyote (Canis latrans), (Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images). A Black bear (Ursus americanus) roams the dry grass (Photo by: Peter Zenkl/VWPics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The double whammy of coyote mating season and black bears emerging from hibernation means Kentucky residents should stay alert.

“Coyotes are in their mating season February, probably to the early couple weeks of March, along with bears emerging from their dens, they’re obviously looking for that first free meal,” Officer Bobby Owens of Kentucky’s Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources tells local WYMT.

Nearly all wildlife becomes more active as spring rolls in. But mid-to-large sized predators pose a unique challenge for those of us sharing their habitat. Owens wants Kentucky residents, especially those living in the Appalachian region, to stay vigilant and watchful as a result.

Coyote Mating Season is in Full Swing

As coyotes branch out for new territory and mating opportunities, the likelihood of urban encounters increases dramatically, too. These mid-sized canines are typically skiddish around humans, but our pets and livestock are a different matter.

All pet owners should be aware whenever their pets are outside, as coyotes often prey on cats and small-to-mid-sized dogs (even larger breeds in rare instances). Those with livestock should be particularly cautious. In Kentucky, Tennessee and elsewhere, coyotes are a common predator of chickens, and will also pursue calves during calving season. Coyote attacks on humans do occur, too, so being wildlife aware is paramount.

The best way to protect yourself and your animals from coyotes is to get rid of attractants, something Officer Owens echoes. Storing pet food outside is a big no. Our trash – particularly food scraps – is a major attractant for wildlife looking for an easy meal, too.

“There’s other household products, such as ammonia that you can saturate your trash with as you put it out,” Owens offers as a method of putting hungry animals off the smell. But if your coyote problem persists, “Try to seek out people who actually hunt them, get rid of the problem that way, or we have a lot of local trappers as well,” he continues for WYMT.

Be BearWise Living with Black Bears in Kentucky

While coyotes are most often regarded as pests, black bears are seen as majestic, welcomed visitors to many. Officer Owens has a warning for Kentucky residents hoping to intentionally attract black bears, however.

“People feeding bears, obviously that’s illegal in the state of Kentucky,” he states outright. “So if you’re having a bear issue, please contact your local state police post and they will get into contact with us and we will take it from there.”

Managing livestock properly is also key to being bear aware in bear country. Keeping trash contained in bear-proof containers is also paramount. But there’s one more heavy attractant that Kentucky residents need to be aware of: bird feed.

Bird feeders, whether seeds or suit or any other common feeds, are high-attractants for black bears. Their incredible sense of smell can pick up these food sources from up to a mile off. And once they get ahold of it, chances are they’ll continue returning to where they found it in search of more easy meals.

Black bear attacks are rare, but they do occur. And bears that become habituated to human food sources not only pose a risk to public safety, but to the bears themselves, as well. Being BearWise, in turn, protects you, your property, and wild bears from harm.

For more on how to be a good neighbor in Appalachian bear country, see our National Parks Journal: How to Be BearWise with Great Smoky Mountains’ Lead Wildlife Biologist next.