Tampa, FL – Coyotes have been spotted throughout Florida and are unlikely to be leaving anytime soon. They migrated to the South over 40 years ago and can now be found along with alligators and other native species. While this poses little danger to humans, it can be serious problem for their pets.
“Though there have been no reports of coyotes attacking people in Florida, pets haven’t fared as well. Pinellas County has received numerous reports of pet cats likely killed by coyotes or pet dogs snatched by the predators,” said Greg Andrews, operations manager for Pinellas County Animal Services.”
“When a yard is overgrown, what you tend to get is a lot more rodents, or birds or lizards, so the coyotes know it’s a good area to feed,” Andrews said. On average there is about a sighting a day reported in Pinellas County since they started keeping records in 2009. Most reports are quick sightings of the coyotes crossing the street or hiding behind a bush.
“A more coordinated effort to get educational information out there to the general public would be helpful,” said Andrews. Simply eliminating the coyotes is not a realistic option. “Coyotes are here to stay. Increasingly they’re moving into suburban and urban neighborhoods. Eradication is next to impossible from what the biologists tell me,” said Karen Parker, a game commission spokeswoman.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have a year-long goal to educate the local residents on how to live with coyotes. “Honestly, we don’t have a protocol to respond to an aggressive or a problem coyote,” said Parker. Along with the University of Florida and the U.S. Department of Agriculture a policy for trapping aggressive and nuance coyotes is being developed.
“There have been no reports of a coyote attacking a person in Florida but has been reported in western states where coyotes are more common. Two of the best steps residents can take to minimize coyote encounters are not to put pet food outside and keep pets either on a leash or indoors,” Parker said.