Coyote caught on camera (again) on refuge property
On Tuesday, Don Parsons, a Tarpon Bay Explorers field guide at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, submitted a new photograph of the coyote originally spotted last month on refuge grounds.
According to Parsons, refuge intern Joe Stack e-mailed him the black-and-white image, which the long-time nature photographer suggested was “the best photo I’ve seen of the coyote to date.”
“I have attached a copy of the coyote captured on one of the trail cameras that I have throughout the refuge,” wrote Stack. “This particular image was taken from the camera that is placed at the botanical site, which is across San-Cap Road from the maintenance yard. The cameras were purchased by the (‘Ding’ Darling Wildlife) Society to get pictures of bobcats on the island to identify different individuals by color patterns and fur markings.”
Three weeks ago, officials at the refuge reported a confirmed sighting of a coyote on the edge of a mangrove shoreline along Wildlife Drive.
“This is a new mammal for Sanibel, now established throughout mainland Florida, which most likely arrived here by swimming island to island,” their report stated. “It is probably a young adult, which disperse from their mother’s territory to establish their own.”
Coyotes are very omnivorous though the majority of their diet in Florida is typically small mammals such as mice, rats and rabbits. They are most active near dawn and dusk and are normally extremely shy and stay clear of humans. However, young coyotes may not be expert in capturing prey and can be expected to be opportunistic in finding food sources.
Coyotes have been known to eat everything from fruits and vegetables to garbage as well as dead fish and wildlife, sea turtle eggs, birds, livestock and small pets.
A City of Sanibel notice issued on March 4 suggested that island residents should apply the same appropriate caution as with raccoons in not leaving dog food or other edible food outside overnight and carefully securing their garbage cans. As it is not known to have a mate on the island, it may soon move on to other locations.
Citizens are requested to report any sightings of this animal, especially if it can be safely photographed to confirm its identity. It is closely related to dogs and wolves so can be easily confused with a pet dog. Sightings can be reported to the City of Sanibel’s Department of Natural Resources (472-3700), the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (472-1100) or the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (472-2329).
To date, the city has not received any confirmed coyote sightings.