Once free-roaming denizens of the western prairies, coyotes have invaded the Tampa Bay area and they are here to stay.
Coyotes can be found in all Florida's 67 counties but have been a growing concern in the Tampa Bay region in recent years. They can adapt to urban, suburban and rural environments where they eat rodents, rabbits, lizards, snakes, insects, wild berries, small animals and fish. They will hunt and eat cats and small dogs and along beaches they even eat sea turtle eggs. Other than taking precautions like keeping your small pets indoors and not leaving pet food outside, fish and wildlife officials caution that there is little that can be done to keep coyotes out of residential neighborhoods.
Coyotes are in the dog family; they are larger than foxes but smaller than wolves and have sharp eyesight, and a keen sense of hearing and smell which helps them to hunt and survive. The coyote population proliferated because they have few predators here. They have high reproductive rates and will eat virtually anything.
Coyotes are most active at dawn and dusk, and often travel solo or in groups of two or three. They are generally not a threat to humans and will run away if scared by loud noises.
Females come into heat once a year in late winter and litters average about 6 pups; both parents care for the young. Den sites are typically found in hollow logs, abandoned burrows, dense vegetation or brush-covered slopes. Juveniles will move into unoccupied areas and establish new territories typically when they are nine to 10 months old. The average life span of coyotes is five to six years in the wild.
To see a map of coyote sightings in Pinellas County go to http://www.pinellascounty.org/animalservices/coyote-map.html ∞.