UF/IFAS helping homeowners across Florida deal with coyotes

Coyotes are becoming a nuisance in some parts of Florida.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Coyotes were introduced in Florida in the 1920s for hunting and, today, they live in every county in the state and are becoming a nuisance in some areas.

Lisa Hickey, an Extension agent for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, is hosting a workshop from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Oct. 16, at the Anna Maria Public Library to help residents understand the precautions they can take to reduce coyote encounters. The library is located at 5701 Marina Drive on Holmes Beach (Manatee County).

“The event was created and requested by the library because residents of the island were seeing coyotes and were worried about their outdoor pets and their well-being,” she said.

Hickey will have her “toolkit” of coyote fur, scat, a footprint cast, and a skull to give participants an idea of the size of the animals, which compare with an adult German shepherd.  Coyote populations have expanded considerably in the last 100 years following the kill-off nationwide of gray and red wolves, the major predators of coyotes.

The website https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=zO3zbhJNtjcw.kZAN362A0DLM shows that there have been more than 350 coyote sightings in Pinellas County alone this year. Lisa Hickey, an Extension agent for the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, said reports of coyote sightings in neighboring Manatee County have tripled in the last two years.

“There’s been an increase in sightings, along with missing cats and dogs,” Hickey explained.

Coyotes feed on raccoons, rats, fox, rabbits, squirrels, armadillo, possum, nest eggs and some fruits. But they also kill cats, small dogs, calves, fawns, and some endangered or threatened species like indigo snakes, sea turtles and burrowing owls. Coyotes will also eat from unsecured trash, dropped fruit, and pet food left outside.

Some tips to live in harmony with coyotes include:

  • Do not leave small children unattended in your yard or at playgrounds in areas where coyotes are known to live;
  • Walkers or joggers should carry mace or a whistle and blow it when a coyote is spotted;
  • Keep small dogs on a leash within six feet of you;
  • Keep trash lids secured on cans or keep cans inside your garage;
  • Remove outdoor pet food;
  • Secure crawl spaces under homes with screening or lattice;
  • And prune shrubs to discourage den-making.

To learn more about coyotes, go to http://manatee.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn_and_garden/FMNP/video.shtml to see four short videos. Or visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw397 for more tips.

By Kimberly Moore Wilmoth, 352-294-3302, k.moore.wilmoth@ufl.edu

Sources: Lisa Hickey, 941-722-4524, lisa.hickey@ufl.edu

Photo caption: Coyotes are becoming a nuisance in some parts of Florida. UF/IFAS

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