Coyotes are here to stay in Manatee County
Follow a few simple precautions to prevent the threat of coyotes in your neighborhood:
- Never leave pet food or trash outside where it will attract wildlife.
- Clear brush and dense weeds from around dwellings. This reduces cover for coyotes and their prey, such as rodents and other small animals.
- Protect children. Although rare, coyotes have been known to seriously injure children. Do not leave young children unattended, even in a backyard.
- Protect pets and livestock. These are favorite prey for coyotes. Keep pets indoors, especially at night. When not indoors, keep dogs and cats leashed at all times. There is a Manatee County Ordinance that prohibits dogs or cats from roaming freely.
- Avoid walking dogs during dawn or dusk hours, which are coyotes’ normal feeding times. Avoid using a retractable leash. Coyotes will notice a dog walked frequently on an extended leash. The coyote will come back, grab the dog, and leave the owner holding an empty leash. When walking a pet, carry a stick, whistle or air horn.
- Use negative reinforcement. Make sure the coyotes know that they are not welcome. Make loud noises, throw rocks in their direction or spray with a garden hose.
Coyotes are highly adaptable animals that came to Florida in the 1970s and will continue to make their homes in suitable habitats in the county.
- Scientific Name – Canis latrans, which means "barking dog"
- Full-grown coyotes typically weigh between 24 – 37 pounds.
- Coat colors range from gray to rusty brown.
- Their bushy tails are usually black-tipped.
- Omnivores, coyotes eat just about anything. Wild fruits, insects, birds and other small mammals are some of their favorite foods, but some coyotes may prey on cats, small dogs and livestock. Garbage and pet food left outside may also attract coyotes.
- There have been very few reported cases of western coyotes biting people. Their innate fear of humans tends to keep them from coming into close contact with people.
- In urban areas, coyotes can lose their fear of humans as a result of coming to rely on ample food sources, including household refuse, pet food and even intentional feeding of coyotes by residents.
- Coyote attacks on people, while extremely rare, have occurred in other parts of the country and could happen in Manatee County. Previous serious instances where owners were present with large dogs when coyotes attacked were wakeup calls. If offending coyotes can be targeted, then removal may be indicated; while in the past there was a wildlife officer to which this removal would be assigned, Animal Services has since eliminated the wildlife officer position.
- The long-term solution requires public education, changes in residents’ behavior and in some situations, the means to remove individual offending animals.
- “As long as residents keep wildlife wild and do not provide easy meals to them, they should not pose a threat to people,” says Marina D'Abreau, Manatee County Agriculture and Extension Service Manager. “The problem comes in when people start leaving food outside their homes, or leave trash available, or allow their cats and dogs to roam the neighborhood. Then, we are providing easy meals to wild coyotes, inviting them into our areas and encouraging them to lose their natural fear of humans.”