Living with Coyotes
Coyotes are found throughout Florida. According to a 2007 FWC report, the presence of coyotes has been documented in all 67 Florida counties. Coyotes arrived in Florida as part of natural range expansion from western states; they now live in every state but Hawaii. This medium-sized canine, a close relative of the domestic dog, is extremely adaptable and can be found in rural, suburban and urban landscapes. They are typically shy and elusive but encounters between people and coyotes in Florida are occurring more often.
Coyotes help maintain balanced ecosystems by controlling the populations of rodents and smaller predators, such as foxes, opossums and raccoons, which naturally occur in higher densities and can quickly overpopulate areas of habitat. Coyotes are native to North America, have been in Florida for many years, and will continue to make their homes around the state.
Coyotes in Florida: Here to Stay
Removing coyotes for the purpose of eradication is an inefficient and ineffective method to control populations. New coyotes move into areas where others have been removed. Removal activities such as hunting and trapping place pressure on coyote populations, and the species responds by reproducing at a younger age and producing more pups per litter; populations can quickly return to their original size.
Coyotes are in Florida due to natural range expansion from western states. Coyotes now live in every state but Hawaii. Visit the FWC Coyote Species Profile for additional information about coyote biology.
Coyotes are not large animals and rarely pose a threat to people, especially adults. They can be curious but are also timid and generally run away if challenged. If a coyote approaches too closely, there are methods you can use to deter it and frighten it away. Hazing the animal by making loud noises and acting aggressively will typically cause a coyote to leave an area, but you may need to increase and continue hazing efforts until the coyote is effectively deterred and leaves the area for good. There are several methods of hazing that are effective with coyotes.
- Waving your arms in the air and yelling will usually get a coyote to retreat, unless there is a den with pups nearby. You may need to move towards the coyote and increase hazing if the animal does not immediately run away. Once the coyote begins to move away, it is important to continue hazing efforts until the coyote has completely left the area.
- Noisemakers are often effective deterrents to coyotes, including air horns, banging pots and pans and homemade noisemakers. A “coyote shaker” made from placing pebbles or coins in an empty drink container can be an effective noisemaker.
- Throwing small stones or sticks towards (but not at) a coyote will usually cause the animal to leave. Spraying water from a hose or using bear repellent can also be effective hazing methods. Do not attempt to hurt the coyote because injured animals are more likely to defend themselves; the goal should be to scare the coyote away. Remember that wildlife will attempt to protect themselves or their young if threatened — keep your distance.
- Vary your methods of hazing so that the coyote does not become desensitized.
- If a coyote approaches a child, an adult should first yell loudly to startle the coyote and then move towards the coyote. This gives the adult an opportunity to lift the child as quickly as possible and back away. Do not run from a coyote, as this may cause the animal to chase.
- Teach children to recognize coyotes. If children are approached by a coyote, have them move slowly inside and yell loudly – teach them not to run, approach, or feed coyotes.
Prevent Problems with Coyotes
Never feed coyotes either intentionally or unintentionally. This includes placing food outside to attract wildlife. Clean up pet food, fallen fruit and seed around bird feeders – coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will be drawn to and eat all of these potential food sources. Secure garbage cans and secure compost. Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds to prevent coyotes and other animals from resting or raising their young in areas around your home. Educate your neighbors and ask them to follow these same steps.
FWC can help educate your community about coyotes. Contact your FWC Regional Office to request coyote outreach.
Coyotes that associate places where people live as an easy place to find food may gradually lose their natural fear of humans. Be aware of unusual coyote behavior. Unusual behavior could include a coyote that has lost its fear of humans and is approaching people, chasing joggers and bikers, or attacking leashed pets. Unusual coyote behavior can be reported to your nearest FWC Regional Office.
Coyotes can and do prey on domestic cats and small dogs. Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or in the early evening or morning hours (dusk and dawn). To protect your pets, do not allow them to roam freely. Keep cats indoors. Free-roaming cats are at a high risk of being preyed on by coyotes and other animals. Walk small dogs on a short leash that is less than six feet, especially at night, dusk or dawn. Be extra careful if you are going to walk your pet in wooded areas or areas that have heavy foliage, where coyotes may rest.
- If pets are kept in a fenced yard, be sure the fence is at least 6 feet high to deter coyotes from jumping over it and check the bottom of the fence regularly to ensure there are no holes where coyotes can get underneath. Surprisingly, coyotes can climb fences; installing coyote rollers is one option to effectively prevent the scaling of privacy fences. You may also consider adding an electrified fence if you think additional protection is needed.
- Remove attractants from around your home, including pet food and unsecured garbage left outside. Problems with coyotes can be significantly reduced if residents remove attractants and secure trash.
- Be cautious if you are going to pick up your pet when you see a coyote. Picking up a pet may stop a coyote attack, but it can also lead to a situation in which an aggressive coyote continues to go after that pet while in the arms of a person.