When Alabama resident Todd Strong spotted a flock of buzzards bustling in his front yard earlier this month, he hardly could have guessed that a dead deer was the cause of the commotion. Assuming that the animal had fallen victim to a speeding motorist, Strong dragged the carcass to the street and arranged for it to be collected. It was only when he reviewed surveillance footage recorded the previous night that the truly startling nature of the incident was revealed. 

While Strong and his family slept, a coyote was prowling the suburban streets of Vestavia Hills. The opportunistic canine set its sights on a deer and – after a lengthy battle – finally brought its prey down in Strong's front yard. "I'm sure it happens every day out in the woods, you just don't think it's going to happen in your driveway," a surprised Strong told a local news agency.

Although it's not unusual to spot coyotes in the Birmingham suburb, this year has seen a surge of reported sightings in the area leading to growing concern among residents that the canines could pose a threat. Strong, too, voiced his concerns about the late-night deerstalker: "People need to see what's going on. You may hear them at night, but these are pretty violent animals and I'm worried about people's pets, or when you go out walking at night you just need to be aware," he told reporters.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and resourceful predators, and these traits have helped the canines colonise much of Canada and the entire North American landscape. While they can be active at any time of the day, coyotes typically hunt under the cover of darkness and may form family packs (particularly in northern regions) to aid in securing a meal. They are unfussy eaters and will gobble up everything from rabbits and rodents to fish and even the occasional helping of fruit. In urban and suburban areas, coyotes are known to raid trashcans in search of food and may even take on bears to get it!

"Make sure your trash lids are on tight and do not leave any pet or cat food around in your backyard if it all possible," Lt. Chuck Nagle with the Vestavia Police Department advised earlier this year when concern was raised over an increase in coyote sightings. Fortunately, these canines will typically run if approached by humans, but small pets may be at risk (not to mention the local deer population).


Top header image: Steve Thompson, Flickr