Coyote spotted on Pine Island
Pine Island is well known for its abundance of wildlife. From herons to wild boar, the islands’ natural areas attract species of numerous varieties — including coyotes. Recently several residents of one St. James City community have spotted these elusive creatures. Among them was Jeff Lunsford.
“Several of my neighbors have told me that they have seen a coyote in the neighborhood but I had not seen it. Then on Monday morning, I was walking my dog along Fifth Avenue and spotted a large canine running up Fifth,” said Lunsford. “It had apparently been spooked by something and I am 99 percent sure that it was a coyote.”
According to officials with Florida Fish and Wildlife, coyote populations can be found in all counties of Florida and spotting one, while not very common, is not unusual.
“The coyote is highly adaptable and will eat anything from fruit to small animals. They also adapt well to urban environments and as a result, they become less wary to humans,” said FWC spokesman Gary Morse. “When coyotes are present in neighborhoods, those most at risk are small dogs and cats who are allowed to roam free. It is very rare that a coyote will attack a human. In most incidences, the coyote attacks when it feels threatened and for the most part will avoid contact with humans.”
In recent years several reports of coyote attacks on small dogs have been reported in the area of Estero. According to a report from FWC, a woman was walking her dachshund on a short leash and carrying a golf club when a coyote attacked her dog. The report states that Debra Berry said she tried to cover the dog with her body, but while on the ground, she was bitten on the leg by the coyote and on the nose by her dog. She managed to stand and pick up her dog as neighbors came to assist, eventually chasing the coyote away.
“Pet owners should never put themselves in a vulnerable position with a wild animal. Instead, if while walking your dog you are approached by a coyote, pick the dog up and make yourself as tall as you can,” said Morse. “Maintain a dominant posture, back away and make noise to frighten the coyote away.”
Morse also recommended following a few simple guidelines to avoid encounters with coyotes.
“Coyotes only become a nuisance problem if we allow them. While coyotes can be seen day or night, they are most active at dawn and dusk. When walking your dog, keep your pet on a short leash and avoid areas with heavy vegetation that could serve as ambush areas,” said Morse. “When any wild animal becomes a nuisance, the cost can be quite high and it is best to take measures to prevent it from happening.”
Morse also recommends that trash containers should be secured and no food sources such as pet food or bird feeders be left outdoors after dark.
“If you don’t provide the opportunity, you won’t help to create the problem,” Morse said. “Unlike bears and panthers, we do not relocate nuisance coyotes. These animals are euthanised and this can be avoided by simply using a little caution and common sense.
More information about avoiding problems with wildlife can be found at MyFWC.com or by calling Breanna Sterina at FWC, 863-648-3200 during regular business hours. Attacks on pets or humans by any wildlife should be reported to the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 anytime, day or night.