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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, Sep. 5, 2018 11 months ago

Stun it, trap it, remove it

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The internet is rife with news stories of coyotes attacking dogs, cats and children. It’s only a matter of time before a regrettable, preventable tragedy occurs. Get rid of the Key’s coyote now.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

Educating Longboat Key residents about the habits of and what to expect from the Key’s elusive, mysterious coyote certainly is worthwhile. Indeed, the 40-plus people who attended last week’s town workshop learned a lot from staff members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

As Angeline Scotten, a wildlife biologist, told the audience: Coyotes “are territorial, adaptable and intelligent.”

Good to know.

But as Longboat Key’s swan keeper, David Novak, so aptly inquired of town officials at the workshop: “What is the town’s position? Are we just going to let this exist?”

At the moment, the town’s position wasn’t much. Town Manager Tom Harmer said the town staff would continue to look at options and strategies.

That was hardly the answer all of Longboat’s residents — not just those at the workshop — were hoping to hear.

It’s the talk of the town. And it has been that way for more than a month. Go anywhere on Longboat, and that’s what people are talking about — the coyote.

And they’re talking about it because: 1) it’s so unusual; and 2) they are seriously concerned for their safety and their pets’ safety.

Resident Myron Bernstein told town and wildlife officials his “wife is afraid to walk the dog at night.” We know of one Longboat woman who possesses a concealed-carry permit and is carrying a weapon when she walks her dogs.

Or to paraphrase another resident who told the gathering at the workshop: Many residents settled on the Key because of its long-standing reputation as a safe place. But now they don’t feel that way.

Sure, it’s only one coyote. Or is it? Florida wildlife officials said two breeding pairs are likely on the Key, although they are not sure. Longboaters want to know.

What’s more, they want this coyote, or coyotes, gone. 

Even if the experts say coyotes avoid humans, and that dog walkers should keep their dogs close by on leashes and holler if the animal is approaching, everyone knows it’s just a matter of time before there is a regrettable incident. Swan keeper Novak says the Key’s swans can defend themselves if attacked. But come nesting time, they will be vulnerable. 

And if not swans, you can bet there’ll be an incident with a Longboater’s pet. Just search the internet. It’s rife with news stories of coyotes attacking dogs, cats — and children.

Call it nature. Or call it part of the natural ecosystem. It doesn’t matter. On Longboat Key, it’s unnatural, unacceptable and a threat to public safety.

Florida wildlife officials say it is not illegal to shoot a coyote. A tragic incident certainly would warrant it. Few would advocate that now. But the town should be proactive. Even if wildlife officials say a relocated coyote could find its way back, for starters the town should act: Stun it, trap it, relocate it. Now.

To do otherwise will bring only regrets, outrage and tragedy.

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