UPDATE 11/4/13 @ 10:35 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Coyotes were a hot topic among concerned residents at Monday night's Charleston City Council meeting.
Just last month, WSAZ.com reported about the dangerous predators being spotted in the Charleston area.
In the closing comments of Monday's City Council meeting, neighbors spoke out against the problem. Many said something needs to be done about the predators -- and fast.
Council members said they plan to work with state Division of Natural Resources officials to look further into the issue.
"I saw him laying right here and when I walked up to him, I saw where they had ripped open his body," Debbie Cobb said about her pet cat Sylvester.
She was understandably devastated when she woke up to find Sylvester dead, right outside her house. Coyote sightings have been up in the area, and so have their kills.
Debbie's husband, Ron Cobb, said, "It's not like a bear that's going to rummage through food or a deer running through your yard. These are going to kill things, and we need to do something."
West Virginia Division of Natural Resource officials said the problem isn't an increase in coyote populations, it's neighbors not protecting themselves. Dr. Chris Ryan, supervisor of WVDNR Game Management Services, said, "It's just that people are seeing them in places they didn't typically see them."
He has some advice for people concerned about their pets: "Don't put out anything to eat. Keep your cats and things in the house. If you're not attracting the coyote, it's going to go about its business."
West Virginia Division of Natural Resource officials say more coyotes are moving into the region, partly because they have no natural predators. Coyotes are considered a natural part of the state's ecosystem.
DNR officials recommend for people to bring in their small pets and not to leave any food outside.
According to additional information on the DNR's website, coyotes can weigh up to 45 pounds and live in every state of the continental United States. Coyotes are extremely adaptable. Their numbers may me more now than during colonial times.
The primary wildlife species that the coyote prey upon are white-tailed deer and small mammals such as rats and mice. Their diet also consists of rabbits, groundhogs, ruffed grouse, turkeys, chipmunks,
squirrels, muskrats, fruits, berries, carrion -- even the occasional house cat.
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