Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Coyotes and Yuppies

This pic was taken in a nice subdivision
A while back I promised to write this post when I could do it using "polite words." Well, I'm going to try, but I can't guarantee that an F-bomb or two won't slip in. Sorry in advance.

Coyotes

Coyotes have been in Florida for decades (some reports say as early as the 1920s). As more and more land was developed, the displaced coyotes adapted to urban life. About a year ago one or more of them moved into my jurisdiction -- and the residents are losing their [deleted F-bomb] minds.

I was asked to contact the FWC (Florida Wildlife Commission) along with various trappers to see what options the City had in dealing with the coyotes. Things I discovered are:
  • Coyotes are present in 49 states (they can’t find their way to Hawaii yet) and all 67 Florida counties.
  • The average coyote in Florida only weighs about 27 pounds.
  • The territory size of an urban coyote is about 3 square miles – the same size as our small, beach town.
  • Coyotes are opportunistic eaters. They have been known to eat rodents, rabbits, lizards, snakes, insects, deer fawns, small wild pigs, grasses, fruit, grains, fish, carrion and garbage.
  • Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control. In an urban environment they also help control the populations of raccoons and feral cats.
  • Coyotes are generally not a threat to people and are usually easily scared off.
  • Coyotes are usually shy and elusive, but are occasionally spotted where food is readily available.
  • Attractants such as small animals, pet food, garbage, bird seed and fallen fruit are common culprits that bring coyotes into communities.
  • Coyotes breed once a year with 2-12 pups per litter, 6 being the average size.
  • Coyotes will not be relocated. If a coyote is captured it must be euthanized.
  • Removing coyotes from one area can result in coyotes moving in from surrounding areas and producing more pups per litter.
  • Removal efforts have to be continuous or coyote populations will quickly return to their original size.

A resident set up a wildlife camera to see the coyote
traffic in her yard. Yep! It's a coyote.
I contacted several licensed coyote trappers and gave them a tour of the city, showing them where we had sightings. The best offer we got was $300/week per trap (because of the city’s layout, the trapper suggested 3-4) plus a $95 removal charge per coyote. There was no guarantee that a coyote would be caught or that residents would refrain from disturbing the traps. I also spoke with a biologist with FWC. She recommended that the City learn to peacefully coexist with the coyotes (like everybody else does).

The Powers That Be went with door number two. The University of Florida gave us hundreds of “Living with Urban Coyotes” brochures and FWC came out and did a coyote presentation for residents (complete with a stuffed and mounted coyote). For 18 months we’ve been telling people:
  • DO NOT FEED COYOTES!
  • Keep garbage cans sealed and eliminate other potential sources of food.
  • Harvest fruit trees regularly. Pick up any fallen/rotten fruit.
  • Maintained fence to help keep coyotes out of yards.
  • Keep cats indoors.
  • Dogs -- especially small dogs -- should be kept on a short leash and supervised while outdoors.
  • Coyotes are most active from dusk until dawn. During those times be careful around wooded areas and places with lots brush which could hide coyotes.
  • Use hazing techniques (yelling, throwing rocks, air horns, pepper spray, paintball guns, etc.) to scare the coyotes away as they see them.
This information is on the City's webpage, the City's FB page and was sent out with the water bills. Brochures are in City Hall and the Police Department. Despite all our efforts, I'm still getting angry calls about coyotes. Why?

Yuppies

Maybe "yuppie" isn't the best word. But I couldn't find a word for "Whiny citizen who has more dollars than sense and expects the government to fix all their problems because they pay taxes."
  • I have citizens outraged because they've always had outside cats and don't think they should have to bring them inside then cite reasons like the cats' freedom and the smell of the litter box.
  • Others are offended that they should have to change their walking routes or garbage routines. How dare we suggest they keep cans closed and not put them out until after dawn.
  • I've been called heartless for telling people to stop free-feeding the cats and using the phrase "the circle of life" when investigating animal carcasses along the tree line.
  • Some residents want the animals trapped and removed regardless of the cost. Others scream bloody murder if you even hint about using/raising tax dollars to pay for it.
  • The local "animal lovers" want the coyotes relocated -- federal law be damned.
  • The local know-it-alls argue publically with the experts over science and biology, citing ambiguous articles they read on the internet.
  • And everybody yells at me, despite the fact that I have no influence on the decisions made by City, State and Federal leaders. Heck, they didn't even as my opinion!
I get it, people don't like change. But that doesn't mean it won't happen. The coyotes are here to stay. Residents are going to have to adapt. The sooner people accept it, the better. And if one more person calls me a [deleted F-bomb plus other obscenities] I'm going to snap! -- K