Florida coyotes found to be rare, refined breed
APRIL FOOLS -- When coyotes began appearing on Longboat Key last summer, residents weren’t too pleased. But now, after learning some facts about the animals’ heritage, locals are warming up to their new four-legged friends.
Particularly when a recent study revealed a simple finding: They share more in common with Longboaters than first thought.
Through hair samples that town police gathered on the former Colony Beach & Tennis Resort property, experts have determined Longboat’s coyotes are different from typical Florida scroungers.
DNA analysis has proven they are a rare, super-refined breed, perhaps descended from an elegant breed of wolf typically found in and around Grosse Pointe, Mich., called shimmer wolves.
This breed has thicker, more lustrous fur, a better taste in food (think leftovers from The Lazy Lobster and Euphemia Haye, not common woodland vermin) and prefers to spend its time on the beach and golf course rather than trifling for scraps or chasing small mixed-breed pets.
Experts theorize the animals likely hid on car carriers transporting dozens of Mercedes, Jaguars and Lincolns to the island.
Once the trucks parked in the center-turn lane of Gulf of Mexico Drive, the animals easily slipped into the island’s many well-manicured areas.
Wiley Tunes, an expert with Acme Forensic Analysts, who conducted the DNA testing, said he’s never seen such a desire for coyotes to move south.
Tunes said while this kind of coyote might seem looney, it’s perfectly normal for this type of breed to pick up on the behaviors of the humans it sees and try to fit in.
“These coyotes adapt to the environment they’re in,” Tunes said. “If the environment is warm and welcoming, the coyotes will be relaxed. If the environment is hostile, they’ll get snooty and leave.”
Cases of this assimilation behavior include using crosswalks to cross Gulf of Mexico Drive, chasing tennis balls on area courts and taking to poolside lounge chairs to sun themselves in unassuming neighbors’ backyards. They’ve even been seen lapping up cocktails left behind.
Facing mounting complaints and demands for action, the town of Longboat Key hosted multiple workshops last year to educate residents on coyotes.
Now, island residents are questioning the rationale behind chasing them off, trapping them or worse.
Some residents have even taking a liking to the breed.
“I was out golfing last Tuesday, and the most lovely coyote came right up to the green and watched us golf,” Harold Smith said. “It didn’t seem to want any trouble. It simply seemed to want to enjoy the game and sun like us.”
And off the green, morning beach walkers have found a new walking partner.
“I’ve seen the same coyote on the beach every morning for about two weeks now, and it is so pleasant,” Nancy Cone said. “It’s a better, more peaceful walking partner than the ladies who normally gossip.”
But others are still wary.
“A wild animal is a wild animal,” Karen Winston said. “Just because they know how to use a crosswalk and like cocktails doesn’t mean they can be trusted.”