MARSHALL, Texas (KSLA) — It’s not the kind of warning that police give out all the time.
But after a string of recent coyote sightings in Marshall, police in the East Texas city are warning people to be aware of the potential threat.
Their warning specifically targets pet owners and parents of small children. Supervision, they say, could prove to be critical.
Over the weekend, the Police Department posted a photo on Facebook of a coyote in a residential area.
That image is from a concerned citizen, authorities said.
And it's far from the first such sighting in recent weeks.
Jennifer Bister contacted KSLA News 12 after spotting three coyotes recently as she began driving out of the Southern Manor subdivision in Marshall.
“There was one of them that we saw, I think it was last week. She was trotting down Jeff Davis here. And her tail is completely gone from hair and all red, mangy looking.”
Mange is a contagious skin condition caused by microscopic mites. The infection can weaken coyotes and make them more vulnerable to the cold of night.
That has prompted many suffering coyotes to come out during the day and rely more on human food, often found in people’s garbage.
The biggest challenge for Marshall residents, according to Bister, is a lack of direct knowledge on exactly how to deal with a coyote.
“They don’t know what to do. They don’t know if they’ll be attacked," she said.
"You know, they have the children or small dogs, cats whatever, especially the kids, there’s a lot of kids in this neighborhood.”
Marshall police Lt. Len Ames advised: “They can notify us. We will certainly make an effort to evaluate the animal and see what we can do.”
Wildlife experts told KSLA News 12 that it’s the mange itself that’s creating more contact between coyotes and people.
Researchers conclude that mange in and of itself is typically not lethal.
But it does rob the coyote of its coat, mostly from constant scratching because of the infection.
And without a healthy coat, brutal cold temperatures during the winter months can prove deadly for coyotes from exposure.