Our unique barrier island is blessed with an abundance of wildlife, some Islanders were drawn here because of that fact. Many species on the island are harmless and even those are to be appreciated from afar out of respect to maintain the animal’s instincts apart from humans. Several species, such as sea turtles and alligators are protected, and activities like feeding them or harassing them are violations of the law. Others can be considered nuisances to humans and are perceived as threats to our pets and small children, like coyotes.
The presence of coyotes on the island is not new, but there may be newer Islanders and residents who are not aware of the island’s history with this species. During the summer of 2019, coyotes were responsible for the predation of a record number of sea turtle nests, to the point where consideration was made to utilize a depredation permit to decrease the population of coyotes on the island. The Village opted not to hire a contractor to perform this work due to input received from Islanders, individuals, and animal rights groups. The Village waited to see if the Conservancy’s protection measures (cages, wolf urine, etc.) would put an end to the increased number of eggs lost to predation. The Conservancy’s deterrent methods proved to be successful during the following turtle nesting seasons. While numbers of coyotes on the island are similar to 2019 (Conservancy data), reporting of sightings to the Village seemed to have decreased.
Even though the Village has had less than a handful of reports about coyotes over the last few months, the Village felt it would be a good time to educate folks. Recent reports included concerns with scat (feces) on driveways and roads, the coyotes not showing signs that they are scared of humans, and worries about possible interactions with pets and small children. The Village shared these concerns with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and the Bald Head Island Conservancy who has continued to assess predator populations on the island as part of its environmental services contract with Village. Here is some insight on the Islanders’ concerns:
Scat on Driveways/Roads – This seems to be seasonal. Over multiple years a lot of it has been observed in the open in the winter and it is hardly seen in the summer. This could be that they are marking their territory more in winter or that they are out on the roads more in winter with fewer people on the island. This is normal behavior and not a sign of increasing aggression through time.
Not Seeming Scared of Humans –This is also fairly normal behavior. Coyotes tend to stand and look at you rather than run away unless you get really close, it seems unnerving but is pretty normal. Acting aggressively towards the coyote will scare it away (clapping hands, shouting, some people carry a noisemaker like a bottle full of coins).
Interactions with Pets/Small Children – One report from an Islander indicated that their dog had been cornered by coyotes. Another Islander was concerned that the coyote’s lack of fear for humans would in turn pose a threat to their small child. Although attacks on people, including children, are extremely rare, small children and pets should not be left unsupervised on Bald Head Island.
Below are a few resources on coyotes and other island wildlife. Please consider sharing this information with visitors and guests.
NC Wildlife Resources Commission Coyote Website HERE.
NC Wildlife Resource Commission Flyer “Coexist with Coyotes” HERE.
NC Wildlife Resource Commission’s Coyote Education Session for the BHA (12/6/2019) HERE.
Humane Society Flyer “Preventing Coyote Conflicts” HERE.
Bald Head Island Conservancy Website “Island Wildlife” HERE.
Village of BHI YouTube Informational Video HERE.