Residents of the Florida Tampa Bay area need to pay careful attention to coyote sightings. Coyotes are dangerous. They will attack a small being….pet or child. They do not have to be sick to approach people or pets. They are hunters and predators….not the best kind of wildlife to have in one’s neighborhood.
Coyotes have moved into Florida. They are in each and every county from the northern border to southern mangroves where they eat small wildlife, fish and Fiddler Crabs. In west central Florida they have developed a taste for small dogs and cats. Like Florida’s creepy Turkey Vultures, Coyotes have been spotted dining on road-kill.
Their omnivorous diet (they eat anything) has made it easy for them to adapt to urban and suburban neighborhoods. Coyotes can thrive in these areas because that is where the food is. From the coyote’s point of view, a can of garbage put on the curb at dusk, a dish of dog food out on the deck, birdseed on the ground, and small dogs and cats to chase, hunt and kill, spell HOME.
Unlike humans, deer, and some other animals, coyotes do not overpopulate their home territory. When food is scarce female coyotes produce smaller litters.
Coyotes usually hunt alone or in pairs, rarely in a pack. They are most active at dawn or at dusk, but can be seen during the day. Their home areas range on average 10 square miles.
Coyotes have been in Florida since the 1970’s. They belong to the same family as dogs, wolves, and foxes. They are about the size of a medium sized dog…2 ft. high and 20-30 lbs. They are smarter, more wary and faster than dogs. They have better hearing and eyesight.
They instinctively avoid humans, but can quickly overcome that fear if humans feed them.
Ms. Jeanne Murphy is known as Pinellas County’s “coyote woman.” She shares her knowledge about living with coyotes with nervous residents, who already live with snakes and alligators. Many residents have seen these gray haired, dog-like critters in their moonlit backyards.
Ms. Murphy tells people never feed the wildlife. Don’t feed ducks. The ducks attract coyotes and alligators. Don’t let your cats and dogs out loose or alone. Never leave small children out unattended. Coyotes seldom attack people, but have been known to bite small children. To a coyote a small child looks like a small animal, and coyotes are always hungry.
Coyotes will take their prey to a safe place to eat. They suffocate their prey by biting on its throat. They may carry their prey a mile away before consuming it. They eat most of their catch, leaving little behind. They will even eat a captured pet’s leather collar. They will mate with domesticated dogs. They are not good neighbors.
Coyotes can carry rabies and the Parvo virus. They can have parasites, mange, distemper, ticks and heartworm.
To keep coyotes away…
Feed pets inside..
Cover trash cans tightly.
Install motion sensitive lights around your property.
Clear away brush and vegetation around your property where rodents can nest.
Supervise pets and small children when outside.
Don’t feed the wildlife
If you see a coyote on your property, let it know it is not welcome.
Make loud noises….. Throw rocks at it….Spray it with a hose.
If a coyote is not afraid of humans….call 911 or animal services.
St. Pete Times