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This fox standing in the open came from close to the Moss Rock Preserve. Photo by Jim Sweezy.
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The beaver came from came from close to the Star Lake Area. Photo by Jim Sweezy.
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This rattle snake came from the north side of Birmingham. Photo by Jim Sweezy.
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These foxes in the cages came from the Rutherford lake area. Photo by Jim Sweezy.
It would not surprise Ken Gregory in the least if one day he were to get a call about a coyote being spotted in the Riverchase Galleria parking lot.
Coyotes are not native to Alabama, but they have made the state their home in recent years and are especially prevalent in Hoover.
Gregory is a Hoover police sergeant and the city’s animal control officer. He said that coyote sightings have been picking up across the city this year, especially in areas around Moss Rock Preserve.
This year alone, there have been 40 coyotes trapped in Hoover, he said.
“Coyotes are an animal that adapt to anything,” Gregory said. “They’re getting accustomed to being around people.”
Coyotes can be dangerous, but they will almost always avoid confrontations with people.
“Most of the time if they encounter a human, they’re going to run away,” Gregory said.
But they are also notoriously difficult to trap and remove from residential areas.
“We’ve probably had over 20 traps set and they just moved to other streets,” he said.
The city sometimes seeks help from a specialist, Jim Sweezy of Nuisance Wildlife Control.
Sweezy said he has caught 20 to 25 coyotes in Hoover this year for the city and private homeowners and estimates the coyote population in Hoover to be in the “hundreds.”
“Every place I go out there, I see coyote sign,” Sweezy said. Many of the coyotes he encounters are suffering from mange or other diseases.
Sweezy sets traps to catch coyotes alive, so as to avoid harming a child or family pet that might find the trap. The trap works by funneling the coyote through brush or rocks to a bait that triggers the trap.
Captured coyotes are then euthanized. Gregory said the state does not allow coyotes to be relocated since that only moves the problem somewhere else.
Hoover has also seen a number of complaints about foxes and beavers. Sweezy said the fox population had dropped partly due to coyotes hunting them but that the number of foxes has rebounded lately.
Sweezy said he has also gotten quite a few complaints about beavers in Hoover.
“They get in drainage ditches and they’re backing up in subdivisions,” he said of the nocturnal dam builders. “Very seldom do people ever see them. They don’t know they have a beaver problem until they walk out and step in water.”
Foxes are also shy creatures when it comes to humans, Gregory said, but sightings are not uncommon in Hoover.
“They’re like coyotes,” he said. “They’ve adapted. They come out in daytime.”
If a person encounters a coyote, the animal will most likely run off. But if it doesn’t, experts advise that you should never run from a coyote. Instead, make yourself threatening by yelling, waving your arms, clapping and stomping your feet.
Residents who spot a coyote or see signs of one in a neighborhood can call the Hoover Animal Control office at 444-7760.