During the pandemic, coyote incidents in Florida have seen an unprecedented high. In 2020 and 2021, over 300 coyote-related incidents of a serious nature were reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. In the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019, however, incidents of this nature tallied in at only 91. The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org analyzed data involving coyote incidents in the State of Florida to determine the counties that have seen the most coyote incidents during the pandemic.
With summer approaching, a time of year where coyotes are incredibly active due to the abundance of food sources in the environment and the need to teach their young how to scavenge for food, the Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org urges pet owners to implement the measures discussed below to keep their companion animals safe from coyotes this summer.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission maintains a comprehensive database of all coyote incidents reported in Florida since 2017. For the purpose of this study, the Special Reports team analyzed data during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021 with a specific focus on coyote incidents of a serious nature, defined as coyote-related reports involving an: injured animal, injured human, threatened animal, threatened human, killed animal, or missing pet (where a coyote is suspected to have taken the pet in question).
The Florida Counties with the Most Coyote Incidents
Orange County takes the lead as the Florida county that has seen the most coyote incidents of a serious nature during the pandemic. In 2018 and 2019, Orange County reported zero incidents of a serious nature to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. However, during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021, coyote incidents of a serious nature skyrocketed to over 50 reports.
This unexpected surge has been the case for many of the counties on our list, including Volusia, Lake, Marion, Pasco, Seminole, Citrus, and Hernando, all of which saw zero incidents in the two-year period before the pandemic (2018 and 2019), but which now make the Top 10 list for Florida counties with the most reported coyote incidents of a serious nature during the pandemic years of 2020 and 2021.
Volusia County comes in third in our ranking, with three dozen reported incidents, and Lake County follows closely behind with two dozen. Marion, Pasco, Seminole, Citrus, and Duval all reported more than a dozen incidents in 2020 and 2021 combined.
It’s important to note that the numbers discussed above only pertain to incidents of a serious nature (defined in this study as those involving an: injured animal, injured human, threatened animal, threatened human, killed animal, or missing pet–where a coyote is suspected to have taken the pet in question). The total number of coyote incidents of any kind in the state of Florida during the pandemic is actually much larger: 419. However, incidents of a serious nature made up the majority of calls–75%–to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission during the pandemic.
Why Have Coyote Incidents Increased During the Pandemic?
Coyotes have traditionally restricted their activities to evening hours as a means of avoiding the human population. However, during the pandemic, stay-at-home orders meant that more people were staying indoors, which resulted in less traffic on usually busy streets and quieter neighborhoods as individuals worked out of their home offices. This encouraged coyotes, who are extremely adaptive animals, to expand their territory and venture into areas they now viewed as safer in the absence of people. Some also believe that with more people cooking and storing food from home instead of dining at restaurants, wildlife began moving away from restaurant dumpsters to trash cans in the suburbs to find food.
Coyote Protection for Dogs: Common Coyote-Deterrents
There are many ways pet owners can keep their families, including their pets, safe from coyotes. Below are some of the most common and effective methods to deter coyotes.
Coyotes aren’t just excellent climbers; these creatures are exceptional diggers too. Installing coyote-proof fencing all-around your property serves as a great deterrent, as long as the fence is at least 6-8 feet high and 1-2 feet into the ground. Furthermore, if you add barbed wire, wide PVC pipes, or a slanted overhanging over the top of the fence, you will essentially be adding another layer of protection. Such measures will fortify your home and keep your dogs secure when they are out of the house.
There are many strong scents that can be used to ward off coyotes. You can use smells such as white vinegar, wolf or other predator urine, chili, or cayenne pepper to keep the coyotes in the locale away from your home.
Motion Detector Lights
Coyotes are predators that hunt primarily during the night and dislike bright lights. Hence, installing motion detector lights throughout your property will discourage most wild critters away from your home, including coyotes.
Installing security cameras around your property are a great way to keep track of any unexpected visits from predators. This can not only protect your pet but also help you learn about any areas in your yard that you need to fortify against coyotes. You may also be able to scare coyotes away by shouting loudly via the camera speaker. Cameras can also help you keep an eye on your pets, though it’s strongly recommended you supervise your animals at all times and never leave them alone in the yard.
Coyotes aren’t just good at climbing fences; these animals can scale trees and other overgrown shrubberies too. Keep all the landscaping around your property adequately trimmed, making climbing or hiding impossible. And, if there are any fruit trees, make sure that you remove fallen fruit off the ground and secure the trash can lids tightly.
Clean Up After Your Dog Regularly
Coyotes have a fine-tuned sense of smell. And your furry friend’s feces will alert any coyote nearby to your dog’s presence. For that reason, it’s advised that you clean up after your dog regularly. Also, keep your dog from urinating and marking its territory too close to the property’s fencing, as this can also attract coyotes.
Don’t Feed Your Dog Outside
Coyotes are predators that are constantly on the lookout for food and shelter. So it’s best to feed all of your pets indoors. Dog owners are also advised to avoid feeding strays or other wild animals such as deer or rabbits. Coyotes hunt deer and rabbits and might come over to your property to hunt these wild animals if your yard is a common site for these prey. You should also eliminate any water sources from your yard.
Don’t Leave Your Dog Outside Unattended
Dogs love to explore and play outside. However, you should never leave your dogs unattended outside. A hungry coyote will go to great lengths to catch its prey, and a dog left alone outside is a dangerous situation. Always supervise your dog outdoors.
Close/Block Any Pet Doors At Night
Coyotes are known for their cleverness, and if you have multiple pets in your home and happen to live in a coyote-prone territory, it’s safest to keep your pets indoors after dark. It is also vital that you block or close any entry point into your house, such as through doggy doors or garage doors. Many people leave screened windows or back doors open to allow for ventilation. However, coyotes are adept at using their razor-sharp claws to rip their way into households.
Keep Your Dog On A Short Leash When Walking At Night
If you regularly walk your dog at night, be sure to use a short leash. With your dog on a short leash, even if a coyote does come close, you will be able to prevent your pet from defending its territory and deter any fight from ensuing. Also, a leash will stop your dog from flight when it is afraid.
Dress Your Dog In A Coyote Vest
Coyote vests for dogs are made of bite-resistant material such as kevlar. And these vests are armed with 1-inch spikes along the back and sides. Furthermore, coyote vests for dogs are often made of bright, bold colors, fitted with nylon bristles, LCD blinkers, and even bite-resistant shock devices. The idea behind a coyote vest is to slow down a coyote’s attack on your dog, give dog owners the chance to deescalate the situation, and save your dog from any injuries from a fight between your pet and a coyote.
What to Do If You Encounter a Coyote?
Encountering a coyote can be a frightening experience, not just for your dog but for you as well. People staying in locales inhabited by coyote populations are encouraged to take preventative measures to protect themselves from coyote attacks, but sometimes an encounter may still occur, so keep the below advice in mind.
Stand Tall And Don’t Run
Coyotes are ancestors of canines. If you try to run away from a coyote, much like your dog, a coyote is likely to follow you. Consequently, if you encounter a coyote while walking with your dog, you are advised to stand tall, wave your hands up in the air, and make loud noises to haze a coyote away.
Keep A Stick Or Handy Tool On You
Coyotes don’t attack in broad daylight. These are nighttime creatures that hunt after dark. And this information should enlighten you about the fact that coyotes don’t like bright lights. So, if you must go out with your pet for a walk after dark, make sure you have a strong flashlight on you at all times. And, keeping pepper spray, water gun, noisemakers such as small-sized blow horns, or even a tennis ball to throw in the direction of a coyote will help you chase it away.
Grab Any Projectiles To Protect Your Pet
In the worst-case scenario where you encounter a coyote without any handy tools, use whatever you can find around you to aid you in frightening the coyote away, such as rocks, tree branches, or even light sticks. It would help if you remembered, though, that you need to throw things in the general direction of the coyote rather than at it. You don’t want to aggravate the situation by hurting the coyote, as coyotes tend to attack in defense rather than run.
Don’t Turn Your Back On A Coyote
According to research on Human – Wildlife Interactions, coyote attacks on humans show that hazing coyotes work best to chase them away. The least effective method in getting out of a situation where you encounter a coyote is to turn your back on a coyote and run. Coyote attacks increase during coyote breeding and pup rearing seasons. So, many animal behavioral experts recommend that you ought to distract (haze) a wild animal and slowly back away rather than try to outrun a coyote. Once you are out of a coyote’s territory, you no longer represent a threat to its pups, and it becomes less likely that the coyote will chase or attack you.
Don’t Try To Kill Or Poison Coyotes Yourself
It is never a good idea to take things to the extreme and eliminate the coyote population in your area. Trying to poison coyotes can have severe adverse repercussions. Coyotes carry many diseases such as rabies and parasites. And if the local wildlife ingests a poisoned coyote, it might invariably infect many of the wild animals and strays in the area. As a result, you might end up hurting many smaller non-predatory wild animals in your attempt to kill a coyote.
Report To Animal Control Or Other Local Authorities
Local Authorities or Animal Control are capable agencies equipped in dealing with the infestation of animal diseases and the control of growth in coyote population. Hence, if you encounter a coyote and manage to haze it, it’s advised to head straight to the local authorities and inform them of the incident. Even if a coyote doesn’t attack you or your dog, coyotes carry and can transmit many diseases such as rabies, parvovirus, hepatitis, fleas, ticks, and worms. So, it is good to keep the coyote population in check. By doing so, you reaffirm your standing as a good citizen and save another from a potential coyote attack, be it human or dog.
You can successfully keep coyotes away from your property by installing coyote fencing, motion detection lights, and implementing many of the other measures discussed in this article. The key to discouraging coyotes is to never provide them with any temptation for food or shelter. And, if nighttime walks invariably occur despite your best efforts, equip your dog with a coyote vest. It will also help you if you keep a flashlight or some handy tool on your person whenever you go for a walk with your pet after dark.
This article was updated on June 1, 2022 to correct data for Orange, Seminole, Volusia, and Brevard Counties.