Did you know that there are coyotes in Florida? The coyote, a member of the dog family, is not native to the state and once could only be found living in the western area of the United States, but now live in every state except Hawaii. Coyotes were brought to Florida in the 1920’s – to be hunted – and have since spread to every county in the state, except the Florida Keys. Generally, the medium-sized animals present no danger to humans unless provoked. Rather, they prey on smaller animals, such as squirrels, rats, opossum, raccoons, rabbits, and snakes, and also eat fruit, and… neighborhood cats.
You may be wondering how to successfully coexist with these amazing animals. There are some very important habits to put into practice – whether dealing with coyotes, bears, or any other wild animals. These include: 1) securing your trash in animal-proof containers; 2) not letting small pets run free outside, particularly at dawn, dusk, and at night; always making sure the area around bird feeders is clean; and 4) not leaving your pet’s food outside, and 5) making sure there is no fruit lying on the ground in your yard. By following these practices, you should be able to minimize the possibility of attracting a coyote. However, should you see one, just stay calm and be prepared to shoo it away by making lots of noise. Chances are, the coyote will be more frightened of YOU and run away! Be sure to stand your ground until the animal leaves or it may become emboldened and return at a later time.
For information about coyotes in Florida, check out this interesting video series from the University of Florida and the Manatee County Extension Service. http://manatee.ifas.ufl.edu/lawn_and_garden/FMNP/video.shtml