Two Notes from Crozet Readers

Two emails from the RealCrozetVA inbox this week:

It’s nearly Christmas:

I planted a live tree Christmas tree about 10 years ago. It is now taller than my house and quite gorgeous. I would love to give it to Crozet for the Christmas Tree in the Square. Who do I contact for this??

Cat Killings in Crozet?

There have been several cats found dead in the Wayland’s Grant/Jarmans Gap area. There is speculation about coyotes or other wildlife doing the killing. Have you heard anything about this? It is concerning as a parent with small children who like to play outside. (We keep our cat indoors and will continue to do so!)

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15 Replies to “Two Notes from Crozet Readers”

  1. People are apt to blame wildlife for all manner of things they aren’t to blame for or wildly exaggerate their negative impact. What’s far more likely is that they either died of exposure or disease, which strays are likely to be susceptible to, or they were poisoned by human cat haters. Before that last possibility is rejected as ridiculous, let me tell you that I’ve heard of people doing this all over the place. My aunt in Brooklyn, NY lost several of her cats to a neighbor who did this.

    1. I doubt the cats just died on their own and they were not strays, but rather family peys. They had clearly been killed/torn into according to our neighbor.

      I think it is more likely wildlife of some sort given the description of the cats.

  2. OK. Well that was not information that was initially supplied so perhaps you’re right. Or it could be dogs either let loose by owners or strays. Or the injuries could have been sustained by scavenging animals after they were already dead. Coyotes tend to be scavengers. The fact that the animals weren’t consumed makes me wonder if poison in their flesh was sensed by either a predator or scavenger. So sorry for the families who lost their pets in any case. That must be a particularly tough way to lose a pet.

  3. It was our cat that was killed in Waylands Grant along with another family’s cat from Waylands Grant the same night. I tried to post a few minutes ago and apparently I gave way too much information for my computer to handle. We were convinced it was a coyote after speaking with the local animal control and local and state game and fishery. While our cat was old, she was still very coordinated and would have run had she been awake. She often slept in one of our patio chairs and her body was about six feet off the patio when my husband found her the following morning. No one would want to read about the condition of her body.

    After posting on facebook, a friend posted that three cats were killed in their own yards the previous week in Orchard Acres. Another friend saw three coyotes walking through her yard recently. She lives “in the country” toward Greenwood. Another gentleman told us he had seen a coyote recently just off 240 going toward 250. In hindsight, several times in the past six months I have heard a howling during the night that was distinctly not a beagle. I didn’t realize how close it may have been when I heard it.

    According the game and fishery, every county in the Commonwealth of VA has reported cases of coyotes. UNLESS there are local ordinances or laws against it, according to state law they may be shot at any time except Sunday. It is also legal to trap them. They provided me with the name of a trapper. Trapping may be something that one/some of the subdivisions might want to do. Living in such a populated area, I would prefer trapping to shooting.

    I would advise everyone to read about coyotes. Rabies is a whole other issue that we have to be concerned about.


    Ed, I wish I had read your post more carefully before I posted. Yes, the body of our cat was partially consumed. There was very little fur missing, but her body had been split open. Only an animal could have done this due to much better sight and smell than what humans have. She would have hidden from people and she would have run a dog off. We think she was most likely sleeping and the coyote is known to be very fast. Hopefully, she didn’t know what happened.

    Thankfully, we don’t have young children. And while it was a horrible thing for my husband to find first thing in the morning, we are blessed to know what happened to her. We had a cat disappear many years ago and we looked for him for months. Painful as it is, there is closure.

  5. Mary, I’m really sorry to hear about your cat. We’ve got 3 dogs and 3 cats, and I can’t imagine how awful it would be to lose a pet this way. (One of our dogs was almost killed by a neighbor’s dogs who came onto our property through a gate left open by a worker several years ago. Our dog was really brutalized, but he survived his extensive wounds. It was not pretty and was very traumatic.)

    When we lived in California, before moving back to the east coast, outdoor cats were very commonly killed by coyotes. Even small dogs. In fact, the SPCAs there would not adopt out cats unless people agreed to keep them indoors. Our cats don’t go outdoors at all, and we keep our dogs inside a physical fence when they’re outdoors (the electric fence might keep a dog in, but it won’t keep anything else out.) Everybody is inside at night.

    I understand peoples’ concerns about coyotes killing pets. Coyotes are a part of our local wildlife, so they are a fact of life, along with the foxes, raccoons, occasional bears, etc. I would really encourage people to consider keeping their cats indoors, especially at night, for their own safety. And the birds and other critters would probably fare better as well. (My neighbors’ cats have the run of our neighborhood and have killed more than their share of birds, snakes, rabbits, and who knows what else.) Remember that coyotes are nocturnal animals, and you are unlikely to encounter them during the day.

    If people want to do something about the coyotes, please trap. DON”T TRY TO SHOOT THEM HERE IN CROZET. The way I read the county zoning ordinance, discharge of firearms is prohibited in residential zoned areas of the county. The thought of people attempting to shoot coyotes – or anything else – in Crozet frightens me.

  6. Once again so sorry for the horrible way you lost your pets. I hope my comments weren’t contrued as callous. I was just trying to be a voice for wildlife which sometimes gets a bum rap. I didn’t realize coyotes were so predacious. I’m not a big fan of hunting or trapping, but I can understand how people feel when events like this happen. I guess I was thinking, too, of the wholesale slaughter of wolves than is happening by official and unofficial parties out west and didn’t want to see that happen here with the coyotes.

  7. I’m not the Mary whose cat was killed, but Ed, I appreciate your comments and agree that wildlife often gets a bum rap. I, too, do not wish to diminish the pain of losing a pet to a coyote, but our local wildlife is a part of living in the beautiful place that we do, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge, near a national park. The wildlife is one of the things I love most about this area, and it saddens me to know that conflicts between wildlife and people will increase as we take over more and more habitat. Fortunately, with a little awareness and knowledge, there are some pretty simple things we can do to avoid most problems. Like bringing our pets indoors, especially at night. In 8 years of living in CA, I never once heard of an encounter between a coyote and a person. We had lots of dogs and cats there too, and we never once had a problem with wildlife. Personally, regardless of where I’ve lived, my pets and property have suffered much more due to irresponsible pet owners than due to wildlife. And I think there’s a whole lot we can do to peacefully coexist with the wildlife we are fortunate enough to still have.

  8. No ill feelings here. We have done much to educate ourselves in the past few weeks. I remember well when Waylands Grant was a beautiful orchard on a very rural Jarmans Gap Road so I am aware that we have invaded an area once an unobstructed home to lots of wild life. I just was naive to not think that would include coyotes.

    I posted to confirm that it was not a rumor that cats were being killed and to educate the Crozet public in general. Our family usually waits for a while before we adopt a new pet, just to work through the process so we won’t have a cat for a bit. However, as much as we enjoy the outdoors and enjoy having our cat greet us upon returning from work, we will have an indoor kitty. We must make changes as we become more educated. I liked raw cookie dough in my youngers years. It was worth giving up too!

    I have to confess, I do still have some issues with the possibility of rabies. I don’t think that was necessarily the reason that this happened to our cat, but I do have concerns about sharing the habitat so closely.

  9. During the night into Friday, our beloved cat was attacked and killed in our screened-in porch. The screen was ripped open in two places and many paw tear marks and a dog foot print was in the flower bed. Animal control also looked at the scene of the crime and she suspected a band of 2 dogs, medium sized, and one has yellow fur (half inch long)- a pluck was left at our cat’s claws and on the floor. Blood traces indicate that one of the dogs got hurt at the lips/nose. Our cat put up a fight but the attacker gripped her in the neck and broke it. No traces of further mauling or eating of the body. Pure killing for the fun of it. My suspicion is that the recent spade of cat killings around the area (we live in between Jarman’s Gap Road & Lanetown Rd) are related -same animal or band of animals. I have my serious doubts about the coyote theory. Wild coyotes are much less likely to break into a screened-in porch than dogs – some of the latter are truly “pathological” in their behavior and have no respect for human property. My advice: stay on the alert, and any free-roaming dog (esp. yellow ones) are suspect.

  10. Ron, so sorry to hear you became part of this epidemic. One good thing, though, is that the evidence suggests it was dogs, not coyotes, who were responsible — something I suggested early on in this thread — which means that coyotes WERE going to take the rap and be killed for this even though they weren’t responsible. That may still happen because not everybody is part of this thread or will necessarily believe it isn’t coyotes even if they are. It’s a shame some domestic animals have a loose screw or are trained to be especially violent by their owners (like some, but not all, pit bulls for example). If the specifically responsible dogs and their owners can be found (if they aren’t strays) maybe the problem can be addressed, but until then it sounds like the previously suggested advice of bringing pets indoors at night is good advice. Once again, so sorry for your loss.

    1. Thank you Ed.
      I appreciated your contribution to the discussion.
      I suggested to the Animal control officer to run a DNA forensics on the hair or blood or saliva traces, but they clearly don’t do that. So much for that Animal Planet “pet crime” show my daughter sometimes watched, guess that is not real…

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