And a serious picture (click for a bigger version):
(Both pictures from Wikipedia.)
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch: OUTDOORS: Expect invasion of coyotes:
Chances are most city goers and suburbanites in Virginia don’t think of coyotes as a native species. Maybe they’re from the American West. Or, if they’re here, they’re probably hiding out in the mountain redoubts of far southwestern Virginia. There’s no way Henrico County or the City of Richmond is coyote country, is there?
In fact, that’s exactly the case. And while it’s true that coyotes aren’t native to this state, their population and range has been steadily increasing for years. So while we may think of the wily coyote as an exotic species, it’s one many Virginians will be getting to know on a much more intimate level in years to come.
Coyotes are one of the only species whose range and numbers have grown along with human expansion and intrusion into formerly wild areas. The key to the spread of the coyote across this state, as in the rest of the south and east, is its flexibility in diet and preferred living quarters.
“They’re adapted to brushy, disturbed habitat, and they’re very adaptable in their diet,” said Mike Fies, furbearer program director with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. “They’re omnivores. They’ll eat just about anything. Everything from dog food in trash to mice, rodents, deer and livestock.“
Don’t forget cats and small dogs as well.
Coyotes, whose dimensions are usually similar to a medium-size dog (30-40 inches long, 40-45 pounds), are considered a nuisance species in Virginia and can be hunted all year. Fies said the most recent statistics – those from July 2005 through June 2006 – show almost 12,000 reported coyote kills by hunters. That’s a significant jump from previous years.
This year, Varina resident Eddie Griggs joined that group while deer hunting at his hunting club in Buckingham County. He said club members killed seven during deer season and saw maybe 10 others they didn’t get a shot at.
“We went from seeing none to seeing a couple maybe three years ago, then a couple more. Then this year it’s just exploded.
“This year, we’ve really noticed that we don’t have the deer population we used to, especially the younger deer. We made it a point to check the yearling deer. It is nowhere near what it has been.”
Griggs hunts all over the state – Buckingham, Fairfax, Prince George, Caroline counties – and he said he’s seen greater numbers and heard people talk about the rise of coyotes everywhere he’s gone.