Coyotes are beneficial to the environment.
Two things about coyotes. They’re here. And they’re here to stay.
Ormond Beach citizens were invited to a workshop Jan. 16 with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to learn about living with the wily mammals. Sightings are often reported in Ormond Beach on social media, but only about 15 people attended the workshop. The night before, there were 108 people at a workshop in New Smyrna Beach, the FWC staff said.
Catherine Kennedy, senior wildlife assistance biologist with FWC, explained at the meeting that coyotes are now part of the landscape, inhabiting every county in the state.
Some people would like to see them removed, but Kennedy said this is not possible. They are territorial, and another coyote will move into the area. Yards can be made less attractive by cleaning up pet food and keeping garbage cans secure.
They actually help maintain a healthy ecosystem in Florida, eating rodents and insects, she said. They also control the population of small animals such as raccoons, which do a lot of damage to bird and turtle nests.
It’s against the law to feed coyotes and it creates a dangerous situation with coyotes losing fear of humans.
Attacks on humans are extremely rare, but they kill cats and small dogs and can be a danger to children. If a coyote approaches when you are with a child, Kennedy said to pick the child up. She said to never run from a coyote.
Keeping cats inside the house will save them from predators.
“I lost a cat to a coyote,” Kennedy said. “It was terrible. Now I keep my cat inside where it’s also safe from dogs and traffic.”
Kathy Dunlop, of Tomoka Oaks, has seen several coyotes in her neighborhood. After the meeting, she said she’s also going to follow Kennedy’s recommendation and use a short leash to walk her dog, rather than a long, retractable leash.
“If a dog is far in front of you, a coyote may not associate you with the dog,” Kennedy said. “Keep your dog close to you.”
Elaine Sipe, and Marie and Bill Rohlfs, said they have seen coyotes in their Ormond-by-the-Sea neighborhood and they can attest to coyotes killing cats. They told of a neighbor who at one time fed as many as 13 feral cats in her driveway. Now, there are none.
Coyotes can be scared away with noise, called hazing. There are a variety of methods, such as tin cans full of coins, air horns, pots and pans, motion-activated sprinklers, sprays, etc. The coyotes will often run a short distance, and then the person must “double down” and get louder and move their arms to get the coyote out of the area.
The FWC will provide a list of professional trappers.
One myth about coyotes is that they hunt in packs like wolves or dogs. They actually live in family units with one mating pair and other coyotes related to them.
A person should be more concerned about dogs, Kennedy said. Between 1960 and 2006 in the U.S. and Canada, there were an average of 3.5 attacks per year by coyotes, with two fatalities over a 46-year period. For domestic dogs in the U.S., there are 1,000 emergency room visits per day and five million cases a year that require medical treatment. The presentation cited www.dogsbite.org as the source of information.
Another myth is that coyotes will mate with dogs. Kennedy said this would only happen if there are no other coyotes around.
It’s extremely rare for a coyote to get rabies. Only one case was reported in Florida from 1997 to 2016.
MUSIC OF THE NIGHT
“They add to the music of our lives,” Kennedy said. “They sing and call to each other. If you hear it, it’s an unforgettable experience. People come to Florida for wildlife. They contribute to that.”
Because of different habits, the coyotes can share a landscape with panthers and bobcats.
She said the coyotes learned to live in our world, and now people need to learn to live with them.
The workshop contained much more information, such as a new technique being used out west, placing a roller bar on top of a fence to prevent coyotes climbing over.
Visit www.myfwc.com and click on “coyote” under “wildlife conflict” or call 352-732-1225.