As development encroaches upon wildlife habitat, encounters between humans and wildlife – including coyotes – are bound to increase. Throughout, Florida, the presence of coyotes has become a common occurrence in natural areas as well as residential areas. In the past year, coyote sightings on Marco Island have increased from rare to regular, particularly in the Barfield Bay rim area from Key Marco, Sheffield Drive, and Inlet Drive to Caxambas Drive. There also have been reports in the neighborhood near the Island Golf Course.
Though coyotes are pack animals, the sightings reported on Marco Island have been described as one coyote at a time, but they are known to travel and hunting pairs and packs. Coyotes (Canis latrans)can weigh between 24-37 pounds and feed on a bit of everything, such as rodents, rabbits, birds, lizards, snakes, fish and even grasses and fruits. FWC biologists say just seeing a coyote in the neighborhood doesn’t indicate a threat to human safety. In fact, coyotes have lived in and among humans in urban settings for many years with little fanfare, but coyotes may see small pets as potential food. Den sites are found in dense vegetation. They are more active at dawn and dusk, but it is not unusual to see them any time of day.
With plenty of food and cover for dens on Marco Island, especially around the natural areas of Barfield Bay, it is not surprising coyote sightings have been increasing in numbers. They are attracted to food and water sources as well as cover. To prevent your property being an attractive habitat for coyotes, the following practices should be considered:
Any outside food, which includes pet food, bird feeders, and dropped fruit, should be secured or controlled. Pets should be fed inside; bird feeders cleaned regularly and monitored throughout the year; rodents controlled and fruit- bearing trees maintained.
Do not leave small pets unattended or unleashed.
Any water sources should be monitored, including swimming pools without lanais and pet water bowls outside.
Trash cans should be secured (inside a garage or lanai) and occasionally cleaned to rid of odors that may attract coyotes
Shrubs should be maintained; all debris in yard disposed of properly, to prevent cover and “hollows” for dens.
If you see a coyote, don’t ignore it; it will get used to human presence – losing fear, eventually becoming territorial and aggressive for food and shelter. Instead:
Carry a flashlight, noisemaker and a walking stick when walking small animals
Keep pets on a leash, and if approached by potentially dangerous wildlife, do not hunch over your pet to protect it. Pick up small pets and stand as tall as possible
Make loud noises and waive your arms
Make eye contact at all times
Bang pots; make loud noises
Do not run away; it might trigger the coyote’s instinct to chase.
As a last resort, spray with a hose or spray with Mace or a similar product if the animal is bold and does not leave
Coyote attacks on humans are rare, and most attacks have resulted in minor bites or scratches to adults attempting to save their pets. The conflict with potential to affect the greatest number of Floridians and increase the most in the future is coyote depredation on cats and small dogs. While problems with coyotes are currently low, they can be expected to increase in those areas where coyote numbers are still increasing. Attempting to completely eliminate coyotes is both expensive and futile; however, it may be possible to eliminate specific problem coyotes.
If the above precautions are taken, coyotes are not usually attracted to a particular property. The FWCC deals with nuisance coyote behavior on a case-by-case basis. If there is a focused problem, there are methods available to residents and professional trappers to target specific nuisance animals.
If a coyote becomes aggressive: will not flee the area, growls and/or approaches you, call 911 for the Marco Island Police Department and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at 1-888-404-3922 (FWCC). This is a 365-day, 24-hourhotline for wildlife response. For more information on coyotes: