Living with Coyotes

Last week I saw a news story about a yorkie that was killed by a coyote in Sanibel Island. I was horrified and saddened by this. I’ve never seen a coyote in the wild, until I moved to Florida, so this story really hit home for me.

When I heard there were coyotes in our neighborhood, i didn’t really believe it until I saw them myself. At first I was spooked and concerned. Knowing they were running up and down our street, I wondered where it would be safe to walk my dogs. Over time, I got more comfortable and eventually learned some things that I could do to help keep myself and my pups out of danger.

Frequently, we would see what appeared to be 2 young coyotes. They didn’t have much fur, which is a classic sign of mange. One day we noticed one of them was injured, favoring a paw. We decided we really needed to try to do something to help these creatures and reached out to a local wildlife center - The Wildlife Center of Venice. One of their volunteers came out and agreed that the pups needed veterinarian care, so a trap was set up.

It wasn’t long before the injured pup was captured. But his condition was so poor, he was euthanized. It would be many months before the female coyote would be caught. She was unafraid, sometimes even walking on the other side of the ditch as I walked my dogs. I heard from neighbors who also said she would approach or follow them as they walked their dogs as well. She appeared to be harmless, probably lonely and desperate for companionship. Eventually she was trapped and is now getting the care she needs. I’m not sure what the plan is when she is ready to be released, but I hope this will help her get healthy. While I got over my fear of her and started to look forward to our encounters with her, I have to admit it was odd seeing her as often as I did, especially during the day.

We learned quickly it was best to take our dogs for a short walk at night. Just long enough for them to do their business. While we hadn’t had any issues with the coyotes, they are prey animals and will do what instinct leads them to do - kill small animals. Of which I have one.

My heart goes out to the woman who lost her dog last week. It’s horrible losing someone you love. There are some things you can do to help prevent a coyote attack. They are:

First, always, no exceptions, keep your dog on a short leash.

Seond, at night, take a flashlight with you.

Third, if you live in or near a wooded area, shake something and make a lot of noise before going outside. You can take a plastic water bottle and fill it with some stones. This is especially a good idea at night when you can’t see the coyotes, yet they might be just a few feet away from your door.

Fourth, do not feed the coyotes!

Fifth, coyotes can come inside a home through a dog door, so it’s best to barricade these up overnight.

And finally, ff you do encounter a coyote, do not run. Instead, shout or throw something at it. 

I hope this helps you protect your fur kids while finding a way to live in harmony with these beautiful creatures.

Thanks for reading!

Australian Shepherd dog in southwest Florida