Have you spotted coyotes in or around Seminole Heights? Post a comment below.
Some Seminole Heights residents say they have sighted coyotes in the neighborhood recently.
Internet business consultant Shawn Chastain, 39, lives right across the where he saw a coyote while walking his dog last week.
“I have lived in Seminole Heights all of my life as well as my parents going back to 1949 and there have never been coyotes here," Chastain wrote in an email to Patch. "That has changed though. I ran into other neighbors while walking my dog and heard about their sightings. There are over nine confirmed sightings now that I know about. Also, someone mentioned they could be responsible for a half-eaten stray cat found in one yard. The belief is that they are living in the woods behind the at 4212 N. Boulevard. Word is the coyotes have been seen there most often."
Folks living in the vicinity of the church said that they have spotted coyotes in the area, according to Patricia Alexander.
“Two Mondays ago at 9:45 p.m., one ran right in front of me (about 15 feet away) coming out of West Violet Street, crossing North River Boulevard,” Alexander wrote on the Seminole Heights Patch Facebook page. “The next day I called my neighbor across the street who knew all about the coyotes because the next door neighbor had one in his yard. Since then, two neighbors on the river have had them in their yards. My indoor dog woke me up at 4:15 a.m. this past Sunday and one was in my front yard.”
Tina Lorino Rice, who lives in Wellswood, said that a coyote has been spotted on her street, too.
“Coyotes are very common throughout Florida, in rural, suburban, and even urban landscapes,” said Gretchen Caudill, who is the wildlife assistant biologist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Southwest Region. Although the presence of coyotes should not raise major concerns, Caudill said, it is important that they are scared and kept away. As coyotes become used to people, they may become bolder.
Several coyote attacks on dogs and cats have been reported over the past few years in Florida. However, no humans have been the target of attacks in Florida, according to the FWC.
Caudill said that the best way to deter coyotes is to not give them access to free meals, such as garbage or pet food left outdoors.
“Coyotes are opportunistic and will eat whatever is available,” she said.
Coyotes will sometimes predate chickens; therefore, residents with birds in their backyard should use extra precautions.
“It helps if residents can coop their chickens through the evening in a structure that excludes predators. Specialized fencing can also aid in keeping coyotes out,” said Caudill.
If pets are kept in a fenced yard, be sure the fence is high enough to prevent coyotes from jumping over it. Also, check the bottom of the fence regularly to make sure there are no holes that would allow coyotes to get underneath.
Caudill said that a coyote’s instinct is to flee when challenged.
Here are five tips for hazing a coyote away, according to the FWC.
1. If a coyote approaches too closely, immediately act aggressively toward the coyote. Wave your arms, throw things like stones and shout at the coyote. If necessary, make yourself appear larger by standing up or stepping onto a rock, stump or stair.
2. Make a “coyote shaker” by putting a few washers, pebbles or pennies into an empty soft drink can. Wrap the can in foil and tape closed. Continue “hazing” the coyote until the animal leaves; otherwise the coyote will learn to wait to leave until the activity stops.
3. Don’t allow your dogs or cats to roam freely. Keep your dog close on a short leash and keep cats indoors. Where coyote encounters occur regularly, walk pets at other times besides nighttime hours, dusk and dawn. Be careful if you’re going to walk your pet in wooded areas or areas where there are a lot of other plants growing, which could hide coyotes.
4. Carry something that will make noise or scare the animal, such as a small air horn, big water pistol, solid walking stick, golf club, paintball gun, pepper spray or a “coyote shaker.” These things may deter the coyote at close range.
5. Haze a coyote away from your yard by squirting the coyote with your garden hose and banging pots and pans together.
Caudill said that the FWC removes a coyote only when it becomes a human safety risk, such as when the wild animal is sick or aggressive. According to the agency, removing coyotes is an inefficient method to control populations. Removing coyotes from one area can result in other coyotes moving in from surrounding areas. Also, coyotes compensate by increasing litter size and populations can quickly return to original size.
“Coyotes are here to stay in Florida," Caudill said. "They serve a vital ecological function to ecosystems throughout Florida. Coyotes can pose a risk to pets and livestock, but there are ways to mitigate these risks; it just requires a bit of personal responsibility. Residents have to learn to coexist with (them),” she said.
To report a coyote attack or encounter, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission-Southwest Region at 1-863-648-3200.