Gretna residents are seeing more coyotes and calling their City Council members about them, but local trapper Chuck Parker cautioned Wednesday night that the animals are not about to disappear and actually have some benefits for humans.

Parker, who owns a wildlife control business, was asked to brief the Gretna council because of the uptick in sightings.

He said the first thing to keep in mind is that coyotes are part of the local ecosystem and don’t pose a problem unless they are acting aggressively, are out during the day or have lost their natural fear of humans.

“Those animals are always going to be here, just like we are,” he said.

Parker said coyotes normally are shy and nocturnal, so there is nothing unnatural about seeing a coyote at night that runs off when spotted. He said a coyote becomes a nuisance when it continuously returns to a residence where food is left out.

Parker said people need to make sure they are not leaving food out and are securing their garbage cans.

He noted that coyotes breed in the springtime, and an increase in sightings is natural when growing pups are cut loose by their mothers and are forced to find their own territory.

“The coyote is just part of the food chain that shows up eventually,” he said.

Parker pointed out that rodents are a big part of a coyote’s diet, so coyotes’ presence is not without its benefits.

He said aggressive eradication efforts can lead to an oversupply of food, which can cause the coyote population to bounce back even stronger two years later.

Parker said he recently created a software program that plots coyote sightings on a map. Gretna Mayor Belinda Constant said the city may be in touch with him about using the service, which costs $26 a month.

Parker said a single coyote can be seen several times, leading to the perception that there are more of them around than there really are.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder