News Releases

FWC to Parkland residents: Secure your pets and livestock

News Release

Monday, July 26, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

In the wake of apparent coyote attacks that proved fatal for a cat and a dog in Parkland, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is encouraging residents to step up pet-security measures.

FWC officials said it appears that in both cases the pets were roaming freely and were enticing targets for coyotes.

That's something residents of the Broward County community can correct, according to the FWC. As development encroaches upon wildlife habitat, encounters between wildlife - including coyotes - and humans are bound to increase.

"We all love our pets, and we have to protect them," said FWC spokeswoman Gabriella Ferraro. "We can't bring back these lost pets, but we can take steps to prevent this from happening again."

She said just seeing a coyote in the neighborhood, doesn't indicate a threat to human safety. In fact, coyotes have lived in and among humans in urban settings for many years with little fanfare, but coyotes may see small pets as potential food.

"The FWC is prepared to deal with nuisance coyotes, but when lethal response is necessary, it usually should focus on individual coyotes or coyote families," Ferraro said. "Most of the time, there is a better response before the situation gets out of control."

The FWC says residents can prevent most conflicts with coyotes and other wildlife by taking a few simple, proactive steps to avoid creating nuisance opportunities.

Coyotes in urban areas become accustomed to humans if there is a food source in the neighborhood, and coyotes in particular look for easy meals.  These clever creatures get into pet food and unsecured garbage cans.  All such attractants should be removed from the yard, as should other food sources in accessible areas.

Though urban coyotes can be seen at any time of the night or day, it is more common to encounter them between dusk and dawn, particularly near natural areas bordered by water.  Residents walking small pets at these times and places should be particularly cautious.

"Carry a flashlight, noisemaker and a stick or golf club when walking small animals," FWC nuisance wildlife biologist Tiffany Snow said. "That will help scare away wildlife looking for food."

Keep pets on a leash, and if approached by potentially dangerous wildlife, do not hunch over your pet to protect it.  Pick up small pets and stand as tall as possible.  Call the Wildlife Alert hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) to report any problems with coyotes or other wildlife.

Nuisance coyote behavior will be dealt with by the FWC on a case-by-case basis.  If there is a focused problem, there are methods available to residents and professional trappers to target specific nuisance animals.

For more information on living with coyotes and preventing conflicts with these adaptable creatures, visit MyFWC.com/Wildlife or contact the FWC's South Region office at 561-625-5122.



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