Coyotes: a very real danger in Metro Atlanta. We can change that before it is too late

By D.A. King
Originally published in the Marietta Daily Journal – 11 May 2006

It would have been easy for someone like myself who spends twelve to fourteen hours a day alone in their home office to get somewhat bored or lonesome. Unless they were lucky enough to have had Bob as a constant pal and companion like I did until two weeks ago.

We are heart broken here. Bob is gone forever. You won’t see a 54-year-old former Marine cry very often. Had you been here at the King house when we realized that Bob was never again going sleep between our pillows, steal pens off my desk or shred the morning paper while we tried to read it, you could have seen exactly that.

Bob – affectionately called “Bobbers” by my wife, and his “mom”, Sue - our little bundle of joy and entertainment was an eleven-month-old shorthaired shiny-coated black cat with a perpetual smile who never met anyone he couldn’t charm into picking him up and commenting on “what a character” he was.

Bob’s former home was in a cage at the Cobb County animal shelter. When he moved in with us at age three months, Bob was sick and weighed three pounds.

Bob, who died a very healthy thirteen pounds - still convinced that he would eventually catch the cursor on my computer screen - was killed and eaten by coyotes. Taken from his own yard here in Marietta.

A neighbor reported hearing “a squeal” from our house and the bark of the coyotes that freely roam our county one Friday night while we were out to dinner. We never saw Bob again.

This humble writer does not possess the ability to articulate how much “the little guy” will be missed. Trained to come to a whistle like a dog, Bob would tire even the most energetic of us by fetching and returning to our feet his little toy bushy tailed mouse.

Along with Abigail and Grace, Bob is the third cat we have lost to coyotes in less than two years. None of them ever lived to see their first birthday. I know of eight more in our neighborhood alone.

We hope that our eight-year-old female cat - and Bob’s constant target of attack - Lucy, will live to a ripe old age, but we won’t be getting another cat. Like a friend said, why be broken hearted while adding to the local food chain.

While I write partly out of some attempted therapy, I also want the readers here in developing Cobb to know the sadness we suffer can happen at your house at any time.

Coyotes are literally everywhere. Reports are that coyotes are seen in Midtown Atlanta. Friends who work late on Marietta Square tell me they have seen coyotes there. Missing pet flyers begging for assistance in finding “lost” cats, and increasingly, small dogs, are a regular sight all over the metro area.

As Doctor Robert Malsby of Suburban Veterinary Clinic in Kennesaw, our veterinarian since moving here in 1984 and now a friend, put it very succinctly when he told me the other day “Don, something has to be done!” “I see coyotes at my house within the Marietta city limits!”

Dr. Malsby pointed out something that we should all find alarming: Coyotes have no natural predators, they are the top of the food chain in our area and there is nothing to keep their population from continually increasing while we shrink their natural environment with the endless development of Cobb and surrounding counties.

A neighbor has killed four coyotes in our little corner of Cobb in the last six months, and tells me of seeing seven more howling at the noonday siren test not 500 yards from our door since. In the animal shelter last summer, a little girl of six or seven sadly recounted to me a story of seeing a coyote carrying away her cat from her front porch.

I am told that coyotes normally weigh about thirty five pounds and when hunting together can bring down small deer, sheep and sometimes hogs. Research on the animals reveals that they are “usually” afraid of humans. The advice on one Website I visited to learn about the vermin was that if you see coyotes “pick up your small children and wave your hands”.

I wish that I could have followed that advice the one and only time that Bob somehow slipped past me and got out that evening.

There is no closed season on coyotes.

I agree with Dr. Malsby. Something has to be done.

Good-bye Bobbers.

It is my hope that people will demand help from our county governments. The danger that the coyotes present to our community is very real. Action must be taken before other people are mourning small children instead of their pets. dak


Cobb County Board of Commissioners here

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners

Fulton County Board of Commissioners here

Dekalb County Board of Commissioners