Nope, that wasn’t a skinny dog you saw cross the street. Coyotes are typically shy and elusive, but encounters with humans are on the rise in Florida as the animals can lessen their fear of people. However, no humans have been the target of attacks in Florida, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC).
Adult coyotes in Florida typically weigh between 20 and 35 pounds and have been found throughout the state. This medium-sized relative of a domesticated dog has proven extremely adaptable and can be found in rural, suburban and urban settings.
Catherine Kennedy, a biological scientist with FWC, will be hosting an educational workshop on November 8 at W. T. Bland Library in Mount Dora. Kennedy’s goal is to minimize adverse impacts by wildlife on human populations. She hopes that by promoting wildlife awareness, coexistence with native species will be possible. This presentation will discuss coyotes in Florida - their biology, their history, and common conflicts, as well as strategies to reduce conflicts and keep pets safe.
The workshop is open to all Lake County residents and starts at 11 a.m. No advance registration is needed. Below are five tips for coexisting with coyotes.
5 TIPS FOR LIVING WITH COYOTES:
What attracts coyotes to a neighborhood? According to FWC, Coyotes are highly adaptable and smart. They may live in wooded or other habitats near your neighborhood and go where there is food. Never intentionally or unintentionally feed coyotes. These opportunistic feeders can be attracted to pet food, trash, or to the rodents and other animals that are attracted by it. Eliminating potential sources of food and securing garbage in animal-proof containers will encourage coyotes to move elsewhere in their 5-10 square mile home range.
What should I do if I see a coyote? Coyotes rarely pose a threat to people, especially adults. They can be curious but are also timid and generally run away if challenged. If a coyote approaches too closely, waving your arms and making loud noises (air horns, yelling, banging pots and pans will typically cause a coyote to leave an area). You may need to increase and continue hazing efforts until the coyote is effectively deterred and leaves the area for good. There are several methods of hazing that are effective with coyotes. Vary your methods of hazing so that the coyote does not become desensitized and the hazing is still effective.
How to protect a child from a coyote? If a coyote approaches a child, the animal can be startled away by an adult yelling loudly first and then moving towards the coyote. This gives the adult an opportunity to lift the child as quickly as possible and back away from the animal. Do not run from a coyote, as this may trigger the animal to chase. Teach children to recognize coyotes. If children are approached by a coyote, have them yell and move slowly inside.
How can I protect my pets from coyotes? Coyotes prey on domestic cats and small dogs. Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or at dusk and dawn when coyotes are typically the most active. Free-roaming pets are particularly at risk, so keep cats indoors and walk small dogs on a short leash. Be sure fences are 6 feet high to prevent coyotes from jumping over, and check along the bottom for holes. Problems with coyotes can be significantly reduced if outside attractants (pet food and unsecured garbage) are removed.
What should I know about their diet and behavior? Coyotes feed on small animals like rodents, rabbits, lizards, snakes, insects, white-tailed deer fawns, small wild pigs, as well as grasses, fruit (watermelon, persimmons and wild berries), grains, fish and carrion. They can also prey on livestock, mainly calves, sheep and chickens. Coyotes can live singly, in pairs, or in small family groups. They breed once per year in the winter, denning in thickets, brush piles, hollow logs or burrows. Litters average six pups that are usually born in spring after about 60 days of gestation. (Source FWC)
Coyote encounters or attacks can be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling 888-404-3922. For more news and events in Mount Dora, Tavares & Eustis, click here. To get the area's top stories in your inbox once a month, sign up for the free monthly issue of Mount Dora Buzz here.