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Scientist group hopes to save unusual black coyote roaming Vinings area

The Atlanta Coyote Project says they have permission to move the coyote to Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary. But first, they have to catch it.

ATLANTA — An odd creature is roaming the neighborhoods of Vinings and Smyrna. And unlike so many shared on the internet, this one is quite real. 

It's a black coyote - one the Atlanta Coyote Project hopes to save from what may be an otherwise unfortunate end. The organization reports that this black - or melanistic - coyote has been spotted around the area at least since December, roaming into back yards and causing issues.

Like most wild animals, this coyote can also pose a threat to pets and, to a much lesser extent, people. 

"This coyote is not acting at all aggressively, but it is a wild animal and should be treated as such," the organization said in its most recent update on the animal.

Founded by a Berry College professor, the Atlanta Coyote Project isn't necessarily a rescue for coyotes in most cases. But they appear to be interested in doing so in this case - if possible.

The organization was founded in 2014 as a project to learn more about the human-coyote interactions in the metro Atlanta area. The organization has long seen itself as a sounding board for educating the public about these wild creatures and how to avoid conflict while also studying the habits of these creatures.

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In their initial report about this coyote - or one much like it in the same area, the agency said it appeared to be overly comfortable around humans and dogs.

Across the Southeast, black coyotes aren't necessarily rare. However, when compared to coyotes as a whole, they actually are according to data from Atlanta Coyote Project.

The organization said in their most recent update that their goal now is to capture the coyote and bring it to Yellow River Wildlife Sanctuary in Gwinnett County. But it won't be an easy feat.

"Coyotes are very smart animals and they do not willingly allow themselves to be captured," the organization said. "Contrary to what you might think, sedating or tranquilizing animals can be very tricky and must be done under tightly controlled conditions."

In fact, they said capture is rarely even allowed.

"Trapped coyotes are typically euthanized according to state law," the organization wrote. "If we did not have a home for this particular coyote and permission from the Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources we would not intervene."

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So they're using several ideas to try and trap the coyote - alive.

"We might not reach a successful outcome, but we are hoping for the best," they said.

In the meantime, they're asking the public to be on the lookout and report sightings to info@atlantacoyoteproject.org.

And at least one local police department where the creature may have been spotted is reminding the public that seeing a coyote isn't reason enough to call 911. Instead, Smyrna Police advise the public to be mindful of them and watchful over house pets. Also, avoid leaving out pet food or other items that may draw coyotes into a yard.

However, if a coyote shows signs of rabies such as foaming at the mouth and acting erratic, call 911 immediately.

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