Coyotes are amazingly adaptable and can survive in nearly any habitat. They arrived in the 1970s and have found a home in parks and preserves and in wooded areas that surround many residential areas.

“As long as residents keep wildlife wild and do not provide easy meals to them, they should not pose a threat to people,” said Dr. Welch Agnew, director of Pinellas County Animal Services. “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.”

Residents are reminded to follow simple precautions to prevent the threat of coyotes:

• 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 Redington Beach 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.

If you are experiencing conflicts with coyotes, contact your local FWC Regional Office in the Southwest Region at 863-648-3200.

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