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City, FWC to conduct seminar on coyotes

By Staff | Aug 9, 2019

Have you spotted a coyote in your backyard or neighborhood, and aren’t sure what to do about it?

The city of Cape Coral, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, will present a public seminar on living with coyotes on Aug. 14 from 6-8 p.m. in City Hall Council Chambers.

“Coyotes have been reported in all 67 Florida counties and are wild animals,” said Melody Kilborn, spokesperson for FWC. “The city of Cape Coral was interested in FWC biologists coming to educate residents on coyotes in Florida and ways to coexist with them. The FWC works with citizens and local municipalities regularly to provide guidance on how to minimize and avoid conflicts with wildlife.”

Coyotes in Florida typically weigh between 15-30 pounds, and males tend to be larger than females.

Their fur is usually grayish-brown, but occasionally is black.

They are usually shy and elusive, but can sometimes be seen alone, in pairs or in small groups where food is available.

They are out and about year-round, and play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control, experts said.

Kilborn said residents can limit their interactions with coyotes if proper measures are taken such as securing food sources like trash, protecting small pets and hazing nuisance coyotes with loud noises.

“Coyotes can be attracted to easily available food sources,” Kilborn said. “If coyotes associate places where people live and work as an easy place to find food, they will become accustomed to people and can gradually lose their fear of humans.”

Kilborn said to never feed coyotes (intentionally or unintentionally) and that homeowners should store pet food in a secured container that cannot be accessed by coyotes, clean up fallen fruit and seed around bird and wildlife feeders and secure trash in wildlife-resistant containers.

Kilborn said that coyote attacks on people are extremely rare, and that if the proper precautions are taken, you most likely will not have a chance encounter with the species.

“We encourage residents who see a coyote in their yard or neighborhood to take steps to deter the animal from staying in the area through hazing efforts if they are comfortable doing so,” Kilborn said. “Coyotes are usually curious but timid animals and will typically run away when challenged. Waving arms, yelling and acting aggressive will usually get a coyote to retreat. Noisemakers are often a deterrent to coyotes, as are a strong spray from a water hose, bear spray or a paintball gun. Keep your distance and avoid injuring coyotes the goal is to scare the coyote away, not injure it.”

Coyotes will eat whatever is readily available to them, including fruits, nuts, seeds, dead animals, rodents, garbage, pet food, domestic cats and small dogs.

“Coyotes naturally prey on smaller animals, so they can and do prey on cats and small dogs,” said Kilborn. “To prevent interactions between coyotes and pets, keep cats indoors and walk dogs on a short leash. Use caution when walking pets around wooded areas or near foliage, as they are places where coyotes typically den and rest. If pets are kept in a fenced area outside, the fence should be at least six feet tall so that coyotes cannot jump over them, and the bottom of the fence should be checked regularly to ensure that coyotes cannot crawl underneath.”

Kilborn said it is important to also educate children on what to do if they encounter a coyote.

“Teach children to recognize coyotes if approached they should back away slowly and yell,” said Kilborn. “Teach them not to run, as this might cause the animal to give chase. If a coyote is close, pick up small children and back away from the coyote.”

People can report coyote incidents or unusual behavior — such as the animal approaching people, stalking pets, chasing joggers or bikers and attacking leashed pets — by calling the FWC office at 863-648-3200 or the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

The seminar is free and open to the public. City Hall Council Chambers are at 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.

For more information about coyotes, visit www.MyFWC.com/Coyote.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj