- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2000

Large, genetically beefed-up coyotes have been spotted with increasing regularity in the Washington area. And residents better get used to it the howling beasts are coming in force and will be here to stay, scientists say.
For decades, the creature was rarely seen east of the Appalachians.
In Virginia, as many as eight have been sighted over five years at Washington Dulles International Airport in eastern Loudoun County, said Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority spokesman Tara Hamilton.
Folks have also sighted coyotes foraging in Fairfax County, said Randy Farrar, a wildlife biologist who directs fur-bearing animal projects for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
Coyotes have installed themselves as far east as Maryland's lower Eastern Shore and killed lambs in Harford County, northeast of Baltimore. Little but the Virginia counties of Accomack and Northampton are coyote-free, according to Maryland and Virginia wildlife officials.
"We're all seeing them, and people are starting to talk about chasing them," said Dennis Foster, executive director of the Leesburg, Va.-based Masters of Foxhounds Association.
A new Maryland Department of Natural Resources report says residents will need to adjust to the coyote's presence because "no available management strategy will eliminate biological impacts … [and] attempts at eradication will be futile."
The coyote's legendary shrewdness and adaptability mean they are going to continue to multiply in the region.
In fact, coyotes in the East are changing genetically and becoming larger than their counterparts in the West, Mr. Farrar said. The plentiful supply of deer and other prey may also be enabling coyotes in the East to reproduce at higher rates, he added.
"There's all kinds of things going on genetically, especially with coyotes in the East," said Mr. Farrar.
Folks around the Beltway are "probably 10 years away from seeing coyotes grab their cats … and spotting them along the road in the daytime" but that's already happening in Charlottesville, said Martin Lowney, Virginia director of wildlife services for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Washington-area hunt clubs are considering pointing horse and hound at coyotes in attempt to control the eastward march of the wild dog, which is pushing out the red fox.
Now, "well over 60 percent" of hunt clubs recognized by the Masters of Foxhounds Association also hunt coyote, Mr. Foster said.
Coyotes are so numerous around the Shenandoah Valley that Middlebrook Hounds near Staunton, Va., could chase coyote almost any day they hunt, according to huntmaster Fred Getty.
"Coyotes are running foxes out," said Mr. Getty.
Wildlife biologists agree.
Because the Mid-Atlantic states are both home to more hunts than any region in the nation and constitute the coyotes' last frontier, shifts to coyote hunting in the area could alter American "fox hunting" significantly.
Horses and hounds may have to get fitter, because coyotes run farther and faster than foxes run.
Although coyotes are not fox hunters' favorite quarry, they can be convenient because their strong scent, unlike that of the red fox, is easy for hounds to pick up even in dry conditions.
For some Virginia farmers, the coyote incursion is already changing practices. More are putting donkeys and llamas in their pastures, because those animals chase away coyotes.
Lawmakers are acting, too.
This spring Maryland extended indefinitely its classification of the coyote as a nuisance animal, making it fair game for hunters year-round.
In 1999, Virginia authorized local governments to offer a bounty for killing coyotes. In a few cases, the bounty has enticed overeager hunters to shoot dogs.

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