When Jennifer Nodwell stepped out her front door last week, she found some unexpected visitors had come to call.
"It was right at dark, about 8:15 p.m.," said Nodwell, who lives near the Pecan Course at Walnut Creek Country Club. "I walked out the door to put mail in the mailbox and there were three coyotes in my driveway. At first, I thought they were dogs. They were not dogs. They weren't scared of me at all. I didn't make it to the mailbox. I turned around very slowly."
Retreating was not the right thing to do, said Adam Henry, the Texas wildlife damage management biologist who has been trapping coyotes in Mansfield.
"Her turning away was the worst thing she could have done," Henry said. "She should have made them run from her. Throw something at them. Don't just walk away, make them run away and re-instill the fear of man. They just get bolder and bolder. The homeowners and citizens are going to have to take interactions into their own hands. They need to deter them from being on their property."
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Nodwell said the three coyotes did not seem afraid of her.
"They just looked at me," she said. "They looked like they were looking for something to eat. I've never seen them that close before."
The coyotes were 20 to 30 yards away from her, said Nodwell, who fears her missing cat also ran into the coyotes and won't be coming home. Other missing pets - and some owners who found evidence of coyote attacks - prompted the city's animal control to begin plotting the coyote sightings and to call Henry to trap the animals.
Henry caught five - two males and three females - using steel foot-hold traps in the city limits between March 26 and April 13, he said. The animals, which cannot legally be relocated, were euthanized.
"We are not trapping anymore," Henry said. "The city felt like the problems they were addressing were taken care of. We felt like we caught the animals we were looking for. Our goal wasn't to remove every coyote in Mansfield, our goal was to remove problem animals that were attacking animals.
"We are still taking phone calls on sightings," he said. "We'll come back if there's another problem."
People who see coyotes or have close encounters need to report them, said Police Chief Gary Fowler. Residents are asked to call animal control at (817) 477-2038 or, if they see an animal after business hours, to call the police department's non-emergency number, (817) 473-0211. People can also go online to the city's website to post information about a coyote sighting at www.mansfield-tx.gov. Click on "Report a coyote sighting online" on the city's home page.
"We are not saying trapping is over," Fowler said. "We continue to analyze sightings. We may have to call him back."
The five coyotes that were removed were on private property near the Phillip Thompson Soccer Complex, Fowler said. The cost to the city for trapping the animals was $500, he said.
Amanda Rogers, (817) 473-4451