The Falls Church Animal Control Officer and the Falls Church Police are again reminding citizens that there are coyotes in our area and pet owners should take precautions. Coyotes are now present in every jurisdiction in Virginia and have been in the City of Falls Church since around 2003. Recently, coyote sightings have increased in the Northern Virginia area, and sadly a small dog was killed in its yard in the Lake Barcroft/Annandale area right before Christmas. Falls Church Animal Control and the FCPD feel that it is prudent to alert all citizens to the presence of these animals within this jurisdiction.
Coyotes are the members of the same family that includes dogs, foxes, and wolves. Coyotes are very smart and adapt quickly to an urban environment. They range in size from 35-55 pounds and are often mistaken for a dog, sometimes even a German Shepard. The color of the coyote varies from tan to reddish –brown and may have gray or black markings. Their ears are erect, and they have a long, slender snout along with a bushy tail that points downward. They are nocturnal; however, they are often seen out during the day.
Coyotes in our area are not known to attack humans; however, they are incredibly efficient predators and will attack livestock (calves, lambs, baby goats), small wildlife and small pets. Pet cats, rabbits, chickens and small dogs should never be allowed to roam freely or be left unattended outdoors if a coyote is known to frequent the area. While coyotes will typically not harm a full-size dog, they may attack if they feel threatened. Small dogs are at a higher risk of being attacked if confronted by a coyote.