Coyotes. They are elusive, opportunistic, and adaptable, and are gradually losing their fear of the human population, and that puts our loving pets at risk. Coyotes have been expanding their presence in Florida since the early-mid 1900s. Now, they have been documented in all 67 Florida counties. There are precautions Floridians need to take. These precautions are necessary because encounters between people and this medium canine are occurring more often.
Found all across North America, coyotes are opportunistic eaters, feeding on small animals and larger game, on occasion. And no matter how beautiful or docile the coyote may seem, they are still wild animals and should be treated as such.
In the event of a coyote encounter, there is a process referred to as hazing which will deter it and frighten it away.
Hazing is the process of disturbing an animal’s sense of security, so it leaves the area or otherwise changes its behavior.
Effective hazing techniques to keep coyotes away include:
• If you are walking and see any coyotes, make a loud noise and shout at the coyote as loud as you can. The use of an air horn is even more effective.
• Carry a solid walking stick or a golf club, or even a can of pepper spray. Anything you can use to protect your pet in the case of an encounter with coyotes.
• Raise your arms above your head, making yourself appear larger and scarier.
• Do not run from the coyote. They are much faster than you and will catch you. (They can run up to 40 mph).
Don’t allow your pets to roam freely. Keeping your dog on a short leash gives you the ability to grab your dog in a hurry without having to wait for a leash to retract. Try to walk your dog during daylight hours only so you can see any coyotes coming your way. Keep your cats indoors. Cats can easily fall prey to hungry coyotes. And in the event of a coyote attack on your pet, see your veterinarian immediately to get started with antibiotics and the rabies vaccine booster, as necessary.
As feasible, people should also take necessary precautions to shelter animals such as goats, sheep, calves, pigs, and other small livestock. Small livestock can be protected by keeping them in a secure fenced enclosure with a roof, especially at night. Electric fencing is also an effective deterrent to protect wildlife from preying on domesticated animals.
And if a coyote approaches your child, yell loudly and move toward the coyote. Then lift your child as quickly as possible and be prepared to back away.
The most effective way to reduce problems with coyotes involves removing food or other attractants. Also, It is illegal to feed coyotes in Florida in a manner that is likely to create a public nuisance.
For more information on coyotes, contact your regional office of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission by calling (888) 404-3922, or going to www.MyFWC.com.
By Marc Soloman