Coyotes are not new to South Florida. The elusive and intelligent animals made a comeback to the state more than 40 years ago. But a recent increase in sightings in area neighborhoods along with the loss of family pets have many residents on high alert.
Local trappers have reported a hike in calls from pet owners concerned about the safety of their furry friends. Gated entrances don’t seem to be a deterrent to the native North American coyotes either, according to sightings in Garden Oaks, a gated Palm Beach Gardens community where a pair of coyotes killed a family cat.
Experts believe the mild South Florida climate is especially attractive to coyotes. It also allows their mating season to continue almost year-round.
Here are some tips for avoiding a run-in with a coyotes:
- Be on the lookout all year long
- Use caution with pets, especially smaller dogs and cats; bring them inside at night
- Don’t leave food (or pet food) outside
- Secure garbage in bins with lids
If you do see a coyote, do not run! A coyote’s instinct will cause a “chase” reaction. Although it may be contrary to a person’s natural response, facing the animal while backing away slowly is considered the safest method.
Making noise, clapping, shouting, or banging loudly may deter a curious coyote. The animals are usually shy and not looking for altercations, but they could become more aggressive if they are on the hunt for food.
If you are in a safe area when you encounter the animal(s), call your local animal control center and let them know about the sighting.
Coyote or wolf?
The coyote has a narrow snout and small nose pad, with large ears relative to its head size. The wolf has a wider snout and large nose pad, with small ears relative to its head size. Wolves do not currently inhabit Florida, at least not in the wild.