homepage logo

Sanibel police receive report of aggressive coyote encounter

By Staff | Jul 22, 2019

ERWIN KRAUS The first coyote documented on Sanibel was observed at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in March 2011.

On July 19, the Sanibel Police Department reported that it had been made aware of an aggressive coyote encounter in a residential neighborhood on Sanibel’s east end.

Citizens are reminded to follow FWC’s “Living with Coyotes” guidelines and to report all sightings and encounters to the non-emergency line at 239-472-3111. For a life-threatening emergency, dial 911.

A Sanibel resident reported the aggressive coyote encounter to the non-emergency line.

According to the report, the resident was walking with a 50-pound dog on Anchor Drive on July 19 at approximately 6:30 a.m. The person and dog were approached and encircled by two coyotes. When efforts to scare or cause the coyotes to flee were unsuccessful, the resident and dog were able to safely seek refuge at a nearby residence until the coyotes left the area.

When reporting a sighting or encounter, including the following information:

– Your name and contact information

– Day and time of sighting

– Approximate location of sighting

– Coyote activity (howling, feeding, running away)

– Description, how many or any other notable information

Coyotes are not generally a threat to human safety, but can and do prey on domestic cats and small dogs.

If you encounter a coyote:

– Immediately act aggressively toward the coyote. Wave your arms, throw things like stones and shout at the coyote.

– Make yourself appear larger by standing up or stepping onto a rock, stump or stair. Convince the coyote you are a potential danger to be avoided.

– Where coyote encounters occur regularly, walk pets at other times besides nighttime hours, dusk and dawn.

– Carry something that will make noise or scare the animal, such as a small air horn, solid walking stick or golf club. These things may deter the coyote at close range.

– Make a “coyote shaker” by putting a few washers, pebbles or pennies into an empty soft drink can. Wrap the can in foil and tape closed. Continue to make sufficient noise until the coyote leaves; otherwise the coyote will learn to wait to leave until the activity stops.

Other ways to protect yourself and your pets:

– Do not allow pets to roam freely.

– Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or at dusk or dawn. During these times especially, avoid walking your pet in heavily wooded or vegetated areas where coyotes could hide.

– Keep your dog close, on a short leash.

– Keep cats indoors.

– Coyotes may be attracted by food and garbage.

– Although most of us wouldn’t think of feeding a coyote directly, indirect feeding can be just as troublesome. Don’t place food outdoors that will attract wild animals. This includes pet food, bird seed and even water.

– Store your trash in a secure area until the morning of pickup or use animal-proof containers.

Once strictly found in the western United States, the coyote expanded its range into Florida in the late 1970s and was first documented on Sanibel in 2011. Coyotes are omnivorous with the majority of their diet in Florida being small mammals, such as mice, rats and rabbits. However, they are opportunistic and have been known to eat everything from garbage to fruit and vegetables, dead fish and wildlife, birds, livestock, small pets and even sea turtle eggs. They are most active near dawn and dusk and are normally extremely shy and stay clear of humans.

In response to increasing coyote sightings and harmful impacts to sea turtle hatchlings and other native wildlife, the Sanibel Coyote Working Group was established in 2014 between the city, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. It was formed to establish a plan for coordinated monitoring and management of coyotes on Sanibel.

In 2015, at the recommendation of the group, city council approved funding to conduct coyote scat surveys and DNA analysis to determine a population estimate and relatedness of coyotes on Sanibel – work completed by an expert research team at the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. The findings of the study and accompanying recommendations of the group were presented to the city council on May 2, 2017.

For more information, visit FWC’s “Living with Coyotes” website at myfwc.com/conservation/you-conserve/wildlife/coyotes or contact the city’s Natural Resources Department at 239-472-3700.