Drought impacts wildlife in Texoma

WICHITA COUNTY, Tx (RNN Texoma) - More coyotes are being spotted on Texoma highways and neighborhoods. Wichita County Game Warden Tyler Reed said it is because of the drought.

"Coyotes are very adaptable," Reed said. "They'll go anywhere they can find food."

Sometimes that means roaming backyards after the coyotes are attracted to dog food, cat food, and garbage.

"As their population grows then they get a lot denser in areas," Reed said.

The coyote population increased the last two years after heavy rain grew vegetation, and the coyote's favorite meals mice, rats, and rabbits.

"Nature is really good at keeping everything in balance," Reed said, "When you have an explosion in the prey species, you'll get an explosion in the predator species."

The coyotes do not only eat rodents. They prey on baby sheep as well.

"Their sense of smell is really strong," Wichita County Ag Extension Agent David Graf. "They can smell when [the sheep are] having newborns. They'll come and attack them."

Paul Crumpler has been a rancher for almost 60 years.

"We're going into the sheep business and [the coyotes are] a problem but you just got to manage them with the guard dogs," Crumpler said. He said he has been fighting coyotes off his livestock for all that time.

"We hammer on them pretty good by shooting them and using the guard dogs," Crumpler said.

Reed said the population spike will not last forever.

"Whenever the prey species falls off then competition and things like that will lead to predators to falling off," Reed said. "They don't reproduce as fast."

That does not mean the coyotes will disappear anytime soon.

"They're smart," Crumpler said. "They're smart animals. They're survivors."

"As the population falls off then you'll have fewer of them in town but you'll still have them in town because they've adapted to living here," Reed said.

He advises people to keep garbage secure and not to leave pet food outside to try to keep the coyotes from entering neighborhoods.

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