Temple's wild side
Residents of new neighborhoods often share spaces with wild critters who aren't ready to give up their habitat. Plus, medical experts recommend wellness exams for kids heading back to class.
THURSDAY, JULY 29, 2021
“Humans are building and occupying more land. We’re encroaching on wild habitats that animals have lived in for years. They don’t just go away.”
Experts: Coyote conflicts common
in suburban Central Texas
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple exclusive
A certain speedy bird knows how to get rid of coyotes: Simply get a can of black paint from the Acme Paint Company and create a fake tunnel entrance on the face of a cliff. Then, when a nuisance coyote comes near, a train barrels out of the “tunnel.”
OK, that only works in cartoons. In real life, residents of Temple’s newer subdivisions are learning to live with urban coyotes that are adapting to shrinking habitats.
“Urban coyotes are coyotes that reside in and around cities such as Temple or Austin,” said Michael Bodenchuk, state director of the Texas Wildlife Service. “Coyotes thrive in suburban settings and even some urban regions because of the availability of food and the lack of predators.”
Collum Simpson, a Texas Parks & Wildlife biologist based in Salado, said urban conflicts between wildlife and humans occur on a daily basis.
“Humans are building and occupying more land,” he said. “We’re encroaching on wild habitats that animals have lived in for years. They don’t just go away.”
Simpson said eating from pet bowls and raiding residential and commercial garbage containers is far easier than hunting prey.
“We just have to use common sense and don’t allow them access to things they want,” he said. “If a homeowner keeps pet food and garbage secure, wildlife will move on.”
Simpson pointed out that coyotes are omnivores, meaning they eat food from plant and animal origin.
“Dog food, bird seed, garbage — coyotes don’t care,” he said. “Just keep it secure. Don’t feed your dog a lot of extra food that will sit in the bowl. That attracts unwanted animals.”
Lori Matthews of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department’s Law Enforcement Division said the Temple office receives calls about urban coyotes fairly often.
“We usually get calls after a new development opens or after a rain,” she said. “Rain seems to get them moving.”
Simpson emphasized that human and wildlife conflicts are part of life.
“Reality is there are going to be conflicts between people and wildlife,” he said. “You have to deal with it in a positive manner. If you see a coyote or a bobcat or whatever, just mind your business and chances are it will mind his.”
The real solution for Texas, Simpson said, is public education.
“We need to inform and empower people to take steps to coexist with coyotes and other urban wildlife,” he said.
Common sense precautions people can take to manage coyotes include storing pet food indoors and using tight-locking or bungee-cord-wrapped trash cans that are not easily opened, Simpson said.
“Keep compost piles securely covered,” he said. “Composting should not include matter such as bones or fat, which can attract coyotes quicker than decomposing vegetable matter.”
Simpson also encourages homeowners to keep small pets inside or in a kennel or exercise yard, and to walk pets on a leash and accompany them outside at night.
“Do not feed wildlife on the ground,” he said. “Keep wild bird seed in feeders that are elevated or hanging above the ground. Coyotes can be drawn directly to spilled seed or to the rodents that are attracted by seeds on the ground.”
Simpson said that fruit that falls from a tree also can attract unwanted wildlife.
According to James Martin, Temple’s animal control field supervisor, if you come face-to-face with a coyote, make yourself big and loud.
“Yell and wave your arms,” Martin said. “Use noisemakers, whistles or air horns if they are available.”
“You want to run the coyote off and teach the animal that it is not welcome,” he said. “They are very intelligent and quick learners. They will not go back to an area where they feel threatened and will communicate that to other coyotes in the area.”
Residents of newer developments on Temple’s east, west and south sides have reported seeing or hearing coyotes on a regular basis, but some of the animals have been seen recently well inside the city limits.
“I saw one early in the morning about three weeks ago in the Scott & White parking lot on 31st Street,” said Temple resident Lori Walker. Another resident, Steve Kleypas, also saw one at the hospital around the same time.
Carla Hahn Clardy said she often hears coyotes fighting, howling or mating in a canyon behind her home.
“It’s almost every night,” she said. “I have three dogs, and when the coyotes are out they sit still in the house waiting for the terror to pass.”
Mary Carmichael, who lives on Pin Oak in south Temple, has had several recent encounters with urban coyotes.
“I was coming home about 11 p.m. one night and there was a coyote in the street,” she said. “I thought it was a lost dog and tried to follow it, but when I got closer I realized it was a coyote.”
In another encounter, she saw a coyote in her neighborhood chasing a small pup.
“My husband and I drove behind the coyote and hollered at it,” she said. “Thankfully the pup got away.”
Carmichael had still another coyote encounter last year.
“I saw one cross the road by Temple Bible Church,” she said. “It ran behind the buildings toward the creek.”
Karen Knox Flowers lives in a new development near Hartrick Bluff. She frequently hears coyotes howling in wooded areas of the neighborhood.
While seeing and hearing coyotes can be disturbing, area law enforcement often receive reports of pets that have been attacked or go missing in newer developments where urban wildlife are present.
“A well-child exam is recommended — and sometimes required — prior to the start of school each year.”
Back to school means health exams
By DAVID STONE, Our Town Temple exclusive
New parents are usually vigilant about getting checkups for their baby to ensure the child is developing normally. But as years go by, parents often begin to take a kid’s good health for granted and checkups gradually taper off.
But according to a Baylor Scott & White specialist, opportunities for crucial preventative care may be missed by neglecting annual screenings.
“A well-child exam is recommended — and sometimes required — prior to the start of school each year,” said Dr. Jamie Avila, director for outpatient pediatrics in Central Texas.
“Annual comprehensive and preventative exams provide a grand picture of what all has happened to a child over the past year,” she said. “It allows us to determine if a child is where they should be physically, emotionally and mentally.”
Avila said well-child exams are a big part of tracking growth and development.
“The visits let us know if a child is meeting their milestones such as developing social behaviors, learning, talking and walking on time,” she said. “We also make sure the child is up to date on vaccinations needed for school and for their protection.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, getting to the doctor wasn’t always possible. Delayed visits often meant lapses in vaccines, she said.
“COVID has brought on a lot of anxiety and depression symptoms,” Avila said. “Well-child exams give us a chance to address concerns the child and parents have about life at home and school. If there is a problem, we can get them help early on.”
Well-child exams and proof of immunizations are often required to register kids for school, day care and Head Start programs. And, sports checkups are required if the youth is going to participate in any UIL event.
“They are called sports physicals, but they are required for students participating in any UIL activity,” Avila said. “Football, debate, band, One Act Play…if it’s a UIL activity, they need the checkup.”
Avila said well-child exams are more encompassing than a sports physical.
“A sports checkup is part of the well-child exam, but it doesn’t work the other way around,” she said. “If a patient is seen for a well-child exam they will get a sports physical at the same time.”
According to Avila, well-child exams can vary according to the age of the patient.
“Of course a lot of it is the same,” she said, “but with older children we also can address issues such as wearing seatbelts, drug prevention and sexual health.”
While annual visits can be key to preventing diseases, and mental and physical problems from developing, not all parents have their children examined on a regular basis.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only 83 percent of children receive a well-child exam each year. Most of these are younger kids. About 92 percent of babies and toddlers have wellness exams, but by age 6 kids are 20 percent less likely to get an annual checkup.
The Our Town Temple story
Our Town Temple is an independent e-delivery news service that is not affiliated with any local newspaper or news source, including the Temple Daily Telegram.
I do have a gentlemen’s agreement with The Texas Tribune that allows the sharing of non-partisan news stories and photographs, and their stories have already started to pop up in Our Town issues.
Many readers have asked about my background.
My name is David Stone, and I am a 1979 graduate of Temple High. I have been a reporter, editor, publisher and photographer for newspapers for the better part of 40 years. I have worked at newspapers big and small, including the Groesbeck Journal, the Hilton Head Island Packet, the Peoria Journal-Star, the Killeen Daily Herald and the Temple Daily Telegram.
For the past several months I have been writing for the Our Town Temple Facebook group and on a contract basis for the Telegram. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing both, and I would publicly like to thank Jerry Prickett of the Telegram for providing me with an opportunity to do what I love — write.
In recent years, I operated a fitness and boxing studio primarily for older area residents and sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, that business was a victim of the pandemic and is no longer in business. So, I decided to go back to writing.
I started the e-delivery version of Our Town Temple because I am tired of stories about murder, mayhem and politics. My goal is to create a one-of-a-kind news service that emphasizes the good things in life. I love writing about extraordinary people who do extraordinary things, and Temple has an abundance of these folks.
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed the first few issues of Our Town Temple. I promise there will be many more — this is just the start — and it will continue to evolve.
Your story ideas are always welcome — I’ve received several that are in the works.
Thanks for spending a thin slice of your day with Our Town Temple. We will continue to keep you entertained and informed in less than 12 minutes.
Our Town Classifieds
HEY, REAL ESTATE AGENTS — Here’s a perfect place for your newest listing!
BODY SOLID HOME GYM EXM-1500x: Great condition. $500. Call/Text 254-654-0548 if interested. Can send pictures. Comes with floor pads.
LARGE DESK WITH CHAIR: Great condition. $250. Dark brown in color. Approx 55 inches long, 35.5 inches wide, 35 inches tall. Sides of desk act as bookshelves. Call/Text 254-654-0548 if interested. Can send pictures.
SELLING YOUR CAR? Post it right here!
RAGE FITNESS — 40-pound soft-sided medicine ball. Great for Atlas drills. Like new. $40. (254) 624-4010
VITAMIX — Great condition. Comes with two pitchers. Great for salsas and smoothies. $200. (254) 624-4010
LIFE SPAN TREADMILL DESK: Great condition. Desk and treadmill come as set. $500. Call/Text 254-654-0548 if interested. Can send pictures.
LOOKING FOR SOMETHING? HAVE SOMETHING TO SELL? List it here!
PLYO BOX: Soft-sided, 20x24x30 plyometric box. Great condition. $40. (254) 624-4010
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Our Town Deals
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What’s Happening, Temple?
July 30, Friday - Love Song Speed Dating, (254) 258-2234, Corky’s, 8 p.m.
July 30, Friday - 4-hour Temple Brew Trail, Tour Temple, 13 S. 2nd Street, 8 p.m.
July 30, Friday - Summer Sizzle at Santa Fe Plaza. Job fair, food trucks, outdoor market and live music featuring Three4One.
July 30, Friday - Bell County Cutting Horse Show, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
July 30, Friday - Justin Hewitt. O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
July 30, Friday - Mixed Martial Arts. LFA heavyweight title fight Lewis vs. Petersen, plus the return of All Hail Hailey Cowan. 5:30 p.m.
July 30, Friday - Scooter Dubec and Sterling Country. Bo’s Barn Dance Hall. 8 p.m.
July 31, Saturday - Billy Holt, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 9 p.m.
July 31, Saturday - 4-hour Wine Trail Tour, Tour Temple, 13 S. 2nd Street, 3 p.m.
July 31, Saturday - Bell County Cutting Horse Show, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
July 31, Saturday - Adult Night at Summer Fun Water Park, Belton, 8 p.m.
July 31, Saturday - Live Comedy Showcase, Corky’s, 8 p.m.
August 1, Sunday - Bell County Cutting Horse Show, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 6, Friday - Lilly Milford of Lilly & The Implements joins Bryon White of The Damn Quails for a special performance. O’Briens Irish Pub. 9 p.m.
August 6, Friday - Family Night at Summer Fun Water Park, Belton, 7 p.m.
August 6, Friday - Branded Heart, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 8 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Dave Jorgenson, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 9 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Bell County Comic Con is a family friendly event for those interested in comics, pop culture, wrestling, gaming, movies and fantasy. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 7, Saturday - Dig It! Family Day. Will include a sand pit for unearthing treasures. Learn what it’s like to be an archeologist or a paleontologist and the difference between the two fields of science. Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum. 10 a.m.
August 7, Saturday - American Bucking Bull, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 8, Sunday - Bell County Comic Con is a family friendly event for those interested in comics, pop culture, wrestling, gaming, movies and fantasy. Bell County Expo Center. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 13, Friday - Hyway Traveler, Bo’s Barn Dance Hall, 8 p.m.
August 13, Friday - Bell County Cutting Horse Show, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 14, Saturday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 14, Saturday - Texas Senior Pro Rodeo, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
August 15, Sunday - Bell County Kennel Club, Bell County Expo Center.
August 15, Sunday - Texas Senior Pro Rodeo, Bell County Expo Center Equine/Livestock Complex.
Have an event you would like to promote? Email info to OurTownTemple@gmail.com with “What’s Happening” in the subject line. Keep it short and sweet — what, when and where. You may include a short description. You must include a phone number for verification purposes. The phone number will not be published unless requested by submitter.