After multiple reports of coyote sightings in the Destin area, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will be holding a workshop Thursday to help residents live peacefully among the non-domestic canines.
Coyotes can be found in all 67 counties throughout the state. Even in highly developed areas, such as Destin. From January 2018 through January 2019 there have been a total of 56 calls regarding coyotes in the Okaloosa/Walton area, said Carli Segelson, spokesperson for FWC.
Coyotes were once strictly a western species. They came to Florida by natural range expansion in the 1970s and now live in every state except Hawaii.
“They’re very adaptable,” explained Segelson. “They eat a lot of different foods — they like to hunt in open space, but can be found in very urban areas. And since red wolves no longer have a (strong) presence, coyotes don’t have that competition.”
Most Florida residents are familiar with ways to detract bears from their homes — secure trash cans, pick up fallen fruit and keep pets indoors. The same rules apply for coyotes.
“Coyotes love to get into garbage,” Segelson said. “And food is an attractant, so if you feed your pets outside, don’t leave the dishes out. Keep domestic cats indoors and when you’re walking dogs, keep them on a short leash.”
Like most wildlife, coyotes serve an important role in Florida’s landscape. They manage populations of rodents, insects and small animals such as skunks, raccoons, and foxes.
Spotting a coyote shouldn’t be a cause for concern, Segelson said. They are usually timid and run away when approached. However, if you notice unusual coyote activity, you can report it to FWC by calling 850-265-3676.
In some rare cases, lethal control measures may be taken against coyotes. But it’s a last resort. And according to the FWC website, eradicating coyotes is “inefficient and ineffective” way to control the population.
“Another animal could just take its place,” said Segelson. “That’s why reducing attractants is really the best way.”
The coyote presentation will take place 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7 at the Destin Community Center, located at 101 Stahlman Ave. For more information about coyotes, visit myfwc.com/coyote