Experts say coyotes generally don't pose a threat to humans, but pet owners should take caution to protect small animals.
Be alert, but don’t panic: Residents in neighborhoods throughout Sarasota have spotted coyotes near their homes.
It’s happened in Hudson Bayou, where on Sunday, Barbara May saw one walking down the sidewalk on Arlington Street, near Orange Avenue. The coyote eventually rested in a neighbor’s yard.
It’s happened in Harbor Acres, where residents reported multiple sightings in one day, according to a post on the neighborhood website Nextdoor. A coyote has been spotted in Laurel Park, as well, a commenter added.
The city has recently received calls about coyotes from residents in Indian Beach/Sapphire Shores and Avondale. The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office received three reports on Sunday morning alone.
Although those residents expressed concern about the presence of a wild animal in their neighborhood, officials say you shouldn’t be too worried for your own safety if you see a coyote near your home.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, coyotes are found in all 67 counties in the state. The animals rarely pose a threat to humans and usually run away if challenged, the FWC website states.
They are a bigger danger for pets, however. The FWC said coyotes prey on cats and small dogs, usually at night, at dusk or at dawn. The agency advised residents who know of a coyote in their area not to let their pets roam free, for coyotes usually attack when an animal is unattended.
You might want the coyote out of your neighborhood, but FWC said removing the animal is not an effective population control tool. If coyotes are removed, others will eventually move in. Trapping the animal can actually trigger an uptick in the number of coyote pups. Plus, the animals are a natural part of the Florida ecosystem.
The Sheriff’s Office also said it wouldn’t prioritize trapping coyotes unless there was additional reason for concern.
“These animals are generally difficult to trap since they prefer live food, and the trap is a foreign object,” Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kaitlin Perez said in an email. “Our Animal Services section also traditionally leaves wildlife alone unless the animal is sick, injured or poses a threat.”
These city neighborhoods aren’t the only site of recent coyote activity in the area. On Longboat Key, residents and officials have been dealing with reports of coyote sightings since July. Despite a recent uptick in calls, there have been no reports of aggressive behavior from the animals, according to the Longboat Key Police Department.
The city of Sarasota said it intended to help any concerned residents by sharing information available from FWC. The wildlife agency says that, as long as people are knowledgeable about coyotes, the animal shouldn’t cause many problems.
“The best way to address an increased frequency of coyote sightings, or nuisance coyote problems in general, is education,” the FWC website states. “Negative encounters are mostly preventable if correct precautions are taken, such as hazing coyotes with loud noises to encourage fear of humans, securing food sources such as trash and protecting small pets.”