Biologist: 'Coyotes are here to stay'
(Reprinted from above link)
Catherine Kennedy, a wildlife assistance biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, didn't give area residents much hope on coyotes.
“Coyotes are here to stay,” she said in a presentation to area residents Jan. 16 at the Ormond Beach Senior Center.
The presentation was initiated by Ormond Beach Police as calls from residents have increased both in Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach where there was another presentation.
Jo Ann Owens, lead community service officer for the Ormond Beach Police Department, said, “More people have been moving into the area and (thus) more complaints. There are a lot (of coyotes) on beachside and unfortunately the cats go missing. They are everywhere now.”
Ms. Kennedy stressed the need for people to coexist with the animals, which live in every county in Florida and every state in the country. She emphasized how coyotes do an incredible job eating rodents; insects, such as cockroaches; other pests; and smaller predators, helping balance the ecosystem. The average size of a coyote in Florida is 28 pounds.
On the negative side, given the opportunity, coyotes can include endangered species as part of their diet.
The biggest concern is the danger to small dogs and cats.
Human conflict is almost non-existent. Ms. Kennedy presented statistics showing domestic dogs are responsible for 1,000 emergency room visits per day. Coyote have been responsible for two human fatalities in 46 years (and those two may have been accustomed to humans through illegal feeding), compared to 176 by dogs from 2010 to 2014. Coyotes can carry rabies, but that also is rare with one case in the last 20 years compared to 1,800 cases for raccoons.
In terms of pet safety, what is crucial, according to Ms. Kennedy, is never feeding coyotes, which is illegal in Florida, and securing food.
Cleaning up pet food, not leaving garbage out and cleaning up fallen bird seed are recommended interventions. Coyotes won’t eat bird seed, but they will seek out the mice that do eat the seeds. Cats should be kept indoors and dogs kept on leashes and supervised when they are outdoors. Never run from a coyote, but rather make noise and frighten them away.
Before letting a pet outside, the yard should be surveyed, Ms. Kennedy said. One option is to establish human dominance by rattling bells or something noisy to scare anything away that might be out there. Hazing is an effective technique that scares coyotes by making noise through any number of methods, including “coyote shakers.”
Myths about coyotes include fallacies about their size, that they run in packs, they carry disease, or that they act like “Wiley” of cartoon fame.
Eradication efforts fail as coyotes are adaptable and intelligent animals. Removal efforts can include humane trapping or hiring a trapper.
Ms. Kennedy asked, “Are coyotes good, are they bad, are they ugly or are they just trying to make it in a tough world?
“There are lots of things we can do to protect our small pets and children,” she said. “The most important of these is to take responsibility for our actions. We need to learn to live with wildlife just as they have made it pretty clear they are willing to live with us.”
For more information, call (352) 732-1225 or visit myfwc.com.