Up to six coyotes may be living within a few feet of a southwest Atlanta park, wildlife experts said Wednesday.



A coyote trapper was in Emma Millican Park, which remained closed Wednesday night due to the wild animals.



When she saw the yellow caution tape stretched across the park across the street from her home, LaTanya Grant admits she thought the worst.



Tuesday, she said she walked across Lynnhave Drive to read the yellow notice posted at Emma Millican Park. Turns out, there wasn’t a crime at all. But there is a den of coyotes living near the park, according to the notice posted by the city of Atlanta.



“I read it twice because the first time I didn’t believe it,” Grant told the AJC. “They’re probably just as scared of us, but my guard is going to be up.”



Joyce Shepherd, a member of the Atlanta City Council, told Channel 2 Action News the coyotes have become more aggressive recently, even eating a neighbor’s chickens and a goat.



“I actually saw the coyotes out there with the goat eating the goat,” Shepherd told Channel 2. “I said, ‘OK, this is too much.'”



Grant said the park, just three houses down from Capital View Elementary School, is a popular spot for children to run and ride bicycles. Grant’s two godchildren frequently go across the street to play. But now, she says she’s not sure they should play outside at all.



Sharon Davis, with the city’s parks department, said the den of coyotes live on a private property adjacent to the park. The city, Davis said, decided to close the park as a precaution.



A local veterinarian told the AJC that coyotes are native to Georgia and aren’t uncommon, even so close to the city.



“People don’t normally come in contact with them,” said Tarah Hadley, who has a private practice. “They have probably been there all along.”



Hadley, who also serves as the director for the AWARE wildlife center, said coyotes generally aren’t trying to interact with humans. But many people are still fearful of the wild animals.



Grant says she’s pretty sure she saw a coyote several months ago behind the school, but she had no idea a den lived nearby.



“A den didn’t just form overnight,” she said.



Grant said she did a double-take several months ago when she drove past an animal on her way home.



“That was no fox,” Grant said. “He was just standing there looking at me.”



Scott Melnick, who lives on nearby Shannon Drive, said he often walks his dog to the park, which was re-opened about two years ago and now has a paved path.



“They did tell us when they re-opened the park that there had been coyote sightings,” Melnick said. “But I’ve never seen them.”



Even if some of the coyotes are trapped, Hadley said it will be nearly impossible to remove all of the animals.



“Coyotes that live near an area where other coyotes have been removed will likely try to move in to claim that territory,” Hadley said. “The best option is for people to learn to peacefully co-exist with coyotes and other wildlife.”



Hadley said pets should be kept on leashes when outside. Anyone who does come in contact with a coyote should make loud noises to scare it away, she said.

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