Coyotes mutilating animals in Harahan

Harahan, La. -- Coyotes are once again on the prowl on the east bank of Jefferson Parish, near the river.

"I'll hear howling," said Scott Mayard.

He and others have neighbors who have lost pets to coyotes recently.

"My sister saw a coyote, probably a couple of weeks ago, running through our yard and she scared it off basically," said Michelle Lauricella, a resident.

And the attacks by the coyotes have been vicious, according to people in neighborhoods near Jefferson Highway.

Lauricella said two of her neighbors lost their pets to coyotes recently. "One of their cats got eaten probably about a couple of weeks ago, and that's when we found out that it was possibly a coyote, and then we had another neighbor around the corner here this last Friday lose her cat as well," she said.

Cindy Herrmann, who lives on a nearby street, confirmed to FOX 8 News that her cat was dismembered and partially eaten by a coyote last week. She said last year her 18-year-old cat disappeared and only his fur was found.  She suspects he too was killed by coyotes.

Harahan's Police Chief Mac Dickinson said they are not taking the coyotes lightly.  He, along with some of his officers and members of the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, are vigilant in hunting down the coyotes.  Money from the parish helped to pay for the rifles, scopes and other equipment.

Chief Dickinson said, after the coyotes attack their prey, they often retreat to an area behind the levee and hide in holes in the soil.  "You see the route they take, how they go up that embankment, well traveled, and then they got the hole right there," he said, pointing to a grassy area between the levee and the river.

Dickinson said parents should watch their children closely.  "We want parents to tell their children that they're not dogs, they're not friendly animals, they're wild animals," he said.

Clutching her newborn son John Paul, Lauricella, who has three children, said she is heeding the warnings.

"I make the kids come in at night when the street lights come on," she said.

And the police chief is urging people to bring their cats and dogs inside after dark.

"We've been bringing them in at night, making sure the animals are in at night," said Lauricella.

The shooting of coyotes does not sit well with everyone. Some animal rights advocates have voiced disdain.

"We also have tried numerous things.  East Jeff Levee board has put traps out here," said Dickinson.

And now the coyotes are back.  "I saw some up the highway, zigzagging pattern back and forth across the street," said Mayard.