City of Chattanooga installs fake coyotes at East Lake Park

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / A replica coyote sits on the island at East Lake Park on Wednesday.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / A replica coyote sits on the island at East Lake Park on Wednesday.

The island in the middle of the spring-fed lake at Chattanooga's East Lake Park is now home to two fake coyotes.

The purpose of the coyote decoys is to deter ducks and geese from nesting on the island, which has been relatively bare since the park was renovated and reopened in 2019.

"We're re-establishing a wetland over there," Brian Smith, communications and marketing director for the city of Chattanooga's Parks and Outdoors Department, said by phone. "We love our ducks, it's a duck pond and so forth, but we just want to make sure that we protect the wetlands that we're establishing, which will in turn help out the ducks in the long run."

The roots of the wetland plants will help filter the water when fully established, and their fully grown branches will make it more difficult for waterfowl to access the island, according to a recent Chattanooga Parks and Outdoors newsletter.

(READ MORE: A look at the East Lake Park renovations and timeline)

"Geese and ducks can have many babies that can rapidly damage plants and reduce water quality by eating, trampling and pooping," the newsletter states. "East Lake is a small ecosystem and cannot realistically support the 60-plus geese that are attracted by open lawns and water."

Since the coyotes have been on the island for only a couple of weeks, Smith said he is unsure of their effectiveness.

"Usually in these particular cases they are," he said.

Eventually, the city wants to give the public an opportunity to name the East Lake Park coyote couple, Smith said.

"We hope recruiting this coyote will help defend our plants and water quality," the newsletter states. "We do allow nesting, but we want to make it safe for waterfowl too, and this process helps."

(Photos: East Lake Park reopens after renovations)

But some nearby residents would rather keep the ducks and geese at the park.

"The kids love them," neighborhood resident LaBrandon Richards said in an interview at the park. "Anytime you come over here, the kids love seeing them, and they play with them and feed them. They took the playground from them, so ... really what they like to do is to play with the geese and the ducks."

When the park was redesigned, the former playground -- which was located in a floodplain, former city spokeswoman Richel Albright said -- was removed and replaced with a nature based playground with rock features.

Richards doesn't think there's too many waterfowl at the park.

"There's enough so every family can have some to play with and enjoy," Richards said.

Remiekia Graham, who also lives nearby, said at the park that the ducks are fun to play with.

"It takes a lot of stuff off your mind," she said.

Contact Emily Crisman at or 423-757-6508.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / A replica coyote sits on the island at East Lake Park on Wednesday.

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