Although not native to Florida, the coyote has been tracked in all Florida counties. Here is some worthwhile information to consider if you encounter a coyote on or around your property or near public parkland.
1. Coyotes are found throughout the State of Florida, including Pinellas County. They have been in the state since the 1970's.
2. Coyotes are in the same family (Canidea) as dogs, wolves and foxes. They are medium in size (2 ft in height, 20 – 35 lbs). Their coat varies from gray to rusty brown and the tail is bushy.
3. Coyotes are very adaptable, living in virtually all terrestrial and marsh habitats. They have also adapted and thrive in urban/suburban areas.
4. Coyotes are omnivores (plant and animal eaters). They eat just about anything. Like turkey vultures, they are often seen scavenging on road kill and other animal carcasses. Their diverse diet is the reason they can adapt so easily to a variety of habitats and including urban/suburban areas.
5. Coyotes usually hunt alone, sometimes as a pair, but rarely, as a pack.
6. Coyotes are most active at dawn and/or dusk but have been seen anytime of the day. Home ranges typically average 10 square miles.
7. Coyotes are generally shy and elusive. Like all wildlife, feeding of coyotes will result in eliminating their natural fear of humans.
Coyote Frequently Asked Questions
How can I protect my cat or dog from coyotes?
- Keep pets indoors or in an outdoor cage from dusk until dawn. A fence may help deter coyotes, but is not foolproof.
- Feed your pets indoors. If you must feed your pet outside, do so during the day. Never leave pet food out at night.
- Make sure all trash is in a secure container.
- Install motion sensitive lights in your backyard and around your house.
- Clear brush and vegetation to remove habitat for small animals (rodents) that may attract coyotes and to remove areas that coyotes can hide while stalking their prey.
- Always keep pets on a leash when walking in parks, forested areas or residential areas.
- NEVER feed coyotes.
What should I do if I see a coyote?
- You want to make sure the coyote knows they are not welcome. You can do this by making loud noises, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose. It is important that coyotes retain their natural wariness of humans.
- If the coyote is not fearful of humans, Animal Services should be contacted at (727)582-2600.
Do coyotes attack people?
- Normally coyotes are timid and shy away from people. Although rare, coyotes have been known to attack humans. Most attacks resulted in minor bites and scratches to adults attempting to intervene in an attack upon a pet. Never leave unattended children in areas known or suspected to be frequented by coyotes.
What diseases or parasites do coyotes carry?
- Distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus and mange. Coyotes can be infected with Rabies. Numerous parasites can live on a coyote including mites, ticks, fleas, worms, flukes and heartworm.
Where do coyotes take their kill to eat it?
- Coyotes kill an animal because it is a food source and are very skilled hunters. They may attack fleeing animals from the rear, biting their legs or tail to slow them down. They most often kill by biting the throat, causing death by suffocation.
- Coyotes usually take their prey with them to a safe place to eat. They may carry their prey up to 1 mile before consuming it. They do not leave much behind and tend to eat whatever can fit in their mouth. In some cases, they have even eaten the leather collar of a pet. For this reason, not much evidence or waste is left behind.
Where can I get more information?
Coyotes in Florida: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Power Point Presentation by FWC)
Pinellas County Animal Services 727-582-2600
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Southwest Region 863-648-3200
Wildlife Alert hotline (toll-free): 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922)