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Royal Oaks residents split on coyote problem

November 28, 2016

Over the last month, Royal Oaks Country Club residents have been dealing with more than the rouge golf ball coming over their fences.

Some home owners have seen coyotes hunting on the golf course, there have even been reports that a 40-pound dog was taken from its own yard in the middle of the night from a group of coyotes roaming the course, but that pet owner could not be reached to confirm.

Susan Schmidt, whose backyard abuts the golf course, with no fence separating her yard and the green, said on a recent night she heard a loud whimpering sound she describes as similar to when a cat is hit by a car, coming from her yard that woke her around 5 a.m.

She and her husband went out to investigate. About 20 feet from her house they saw two coyotes facing each other, and standing over something, she said. They went back inside to get flashlights, when they came back the coyotes were farther away with what she thought may be a small dog. She said the coyotes noticed them and immediately ran off, taking whatever they had with them. They saw marks on the green that looked like something had been dragged off.

“The next morning we went to back to where they were near our yard and there were intestines, hair - definitely cat hair, gray and white,” said Schmidt. “I had a stray for two months, I saw him the night before and have not seen him since ... I was shocked they were so close to my back door.”

Residents think the prairie animals are digging under the brick wall that surrounds the course and accessing the gated community.

Debbie Shelton took her two dogs out in her backyard at night last September. She said her pets were acting normal until they got outside, she found her two dogs standing nose-to-nose with two coyotes, with only the gapped wrought-iron fence between them.

Shelton thinks there’s not much that can be done to prevent the coyotes from coming into the neighborhood.

Royal Oaks Residential Community Owners Association General Manager Alfreda Gould said that Houston is home to a lot of wildlife, but had no comment on the resident complaints.

Rusty Gilbert, another resident, is not in the passivist camp and thinks something should be done.

In an email to Gould, he said he doesn’t agree that the coyotes running loose in the neighborhood, and the potential dangers are just part of nature the residents should live with.

“They’re coming into populated areas and a lot of them are not scared of humans,” he said. “They’re roaming around on the golf course at 10:30 a.m.”

He’s afraid that they will continue to abscond with pets and that traps should be set, or the animals should be shot with tranquilizer guns by a professional and then removed from the area.

Schmidt agrees that similar measures should be taken. She said the golf course used to have an abundance of small creatures, like rabbits and squirrels, but now all the small animals are gone.

An official from BARC, the city’s animal control agency said they’ve only received one call about a coyote jumping a fence, not far from Royal Oaks but not an official part of the subdivision.

But BARC may not get calls from residents at Royal Oaks even if coyotes are there.

In a neighborhood online forum there were several posts made in early November by members who urged people not to call the media about the situation for fear of damaging the reputation of the high-dollar neighborhood. Instead, they suggest using personal contacts at the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to handle the problem.

Some have agreed with the concern over the reputation, while others have responded in the thread that they are more concerned with the safety of their streets and backyards.

Others have mentioned previous emails from the HOA that explain what rights the homeowner’s association has when it comes to dealing with the problem, and that they are not allowed to trap or remove animals from the neighborhood.

Gilbert thinks the HOA should at least cover or repair entry points in the fence.

Jarrad Mears, division manager at BARC said that because coyotes are considered wild animals, authorities don’t make any animal control efforts. The only remedy for concerned citizens is hiring a private trapper. But even that is only a temporary solution.

Texas Parks & Wildlife could not confirm if there have been any complaints about coyotes in the Royal Oaks Country Club, but their website states that coyotes eat a wide variety of plant and animal life, are primarily nocturnal and very opportunistic when it comes to surviving in a rapidly changing environment, but do not typically attack humans.

One poster said they have seen a pack of coyotes with as many as 12 roaming a drainage ditch behind a nearby gas station.

“My dogs aren’t in danger because I’m out with them,” she said. “There’s no way to get rid of the coyotes. You get rid of three, and next year there will be five more. It wouldn’t do any good (to try to remove them from the course),” said Shelton.