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Coyotes in Boca? Here’s what to do when you spot them

Coyote sightings in Boca Square and Palm Beach Farms are popping up on Nextdoor social network. Trolling coyotes may be commonplace in Las Vegas. Not so much in Boca. Those weren’t foxes spotted on 12th Road or Southwest 21st Lane.

Here’s the ABCs of coyote sightings from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Q: Did anyone from FWC verify the Feb. 26 sightings in Boca?

A: The FWC received reports of coyotes in the Boca Greens Country Club area on Feb. 26. Information was provided by FWC staff on ways to reduce conflicts with coyotes and contact information for reporting incidents.

Q: What are residents supposed to do after a sighting?

A: Residents that see a coyote in their yard or neighborhood can take steps to deter the animal from staying in the area. Coyotes are curious but timid animals and will generally run away if challenged.

·    Waving arms, yelling and acting aggressively will usually get a coyote to retreat. Increase hazing if the animal does not immediately run away.

·    Noisemakers are often effective deterrents. A “coyote shaker” made from pebbles or coins in an empty drink container can be effective.

·    A strong spray from a water hose, a motion-activated sprinkler, bear spray, or a paintball gun also can be good deterrents. Throwing small stones or sticks towards, but not directly at, a coyote will usually cause the animal to leave.

·    Keep your distance and avoid injuring coyotes – the goal is to scare the animal away, not injure it. Injured animals can be more dangerous and wild animals will attempt to protect themselves or their young if threatened.

Q: What’s your advice?

A: 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.

Q: What about keeping pets safe?

A: Do not allow pets to roam freely. Walk small dogs on a short leash that is less than 6 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. Keep cats indoors. Free-roaming cats are at a high risk of being preyed on by coyotes and other animals.

Q: Does FWC keep track of sightings and are they increasing?

A: The last report the FWC received in Boca Raton for coyotes was on March 1, 2019.

Last year, from Jan. 1, 2018 to March 1, 2018, the FWC had 55 records for reports in Palm Beach County.

This year, from Jan. 1, 2019 to March 1, 2019, the FWC had 13 records for reports in Palm Beach County. Eight in January; four in February and one in March.

Q: Is the FWC the right agency to verify a sighting?

 A: In general, coyote sightings do not need to be reported to the FWC, as they are a fairly common species found throughout Florida. If an individual has a photo, and wants to verify the identification of the animal, the FWC can assist.

Q: Who should people call?

A: People can report conflicts with coyotes or unusual coyote behavior to the FWC by calling their local regional FWC office or the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.

Q: What happens next?

A: They can speak with one of our wildlife assistance biologists. They go to communities to educate residents about coyotes and ways to coexist with them. We also have resources available on our website, MyFWC.com/Coyote.

Q: Do you contract with trappers?

A: The FWC does not license or contract with trappers to remove coyotes. If trapping is the only option to address issues with a particular nuisance coyote, citizens should consider hiring a professional wildlife trapper with experience in trapping coyotes.

Q: Why isn’t trapping the answer?

A: Coyotes respond to external pressures, such as hunting and food availability, by adjusting their breeding behavior. Litter size can increase when external pressures (i.e. hunting/trapping, competition) impact the population.

By Marci Shatzman

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