Coyotes In Southwest Florida

Question: Coyotes are an animal I associate with the western states. Do they exist in Florida? 

Answer: Since southwestern style reveres the coyote, it is often associated with such states. However, coyotes do exist in Florida and have been tracked in our area. The coyote (Canis latrans) is also called a prairie wolf, brush wolf, little wolf, or songdog. These animals are found almost statewide with the exception of coastal areas along the peninsula. They tend to shy away from densely populated cities. The marshes of the Everglades are also limited as far as habitat.

Coyotes are most active at night and can have a home range of 1,500 to 12,000 acres. This is just one more animal that relies on large amounts of connecting native lands to survive. Coyotes mate in pairs during late winter. Averages of six pups are born in each litter. The young are usually raised in pairs, but unpaired young may stay with the parents and help rear the next litter. Coyotes usually make their dens in hollow logs, brush piles, and burrows. If they choose a burrow, it is usually a burrow made by another animal such as an armadillo. Coyotes simply enlarge the burrows to fit their needs.

Coyotes are quite adaptable and eat a variety of things. They feed on rabbits, mice, deer, birds, insects, and carrion (dead or decaying flesh). However, coyotes are omnivorous. They have been known to eat persimmons, watermelons, wild plums, and blackberries. Thus, the coyotes eating habits cause problems for humans, farmers, and livestock owners. Coyotes also prey on domestic cats and dogs.

It is not easy to recognize damage done by coyotes. The presence at a site with damage does not mean that they were responsible, especially since they feed on carrion. But, if you are looking for coyote activity you should look for tracks or teeth marks. The coyote’s canines are about one and a quarter inch apart. Look for signs of bleeding or bruises particularly on the head and neck. Coyotes usually bite their victims on the neck and cause death by suffocation. Coyotes may occasionally attack from the rear, biting legs and hams. In either case, they often begin feeding behind the ribs eating the stomach of nursing animals and kidneys. If coyotes are a problem for you, there are several solutions. Try using exclusion fencing. Electric fencing has been the most effective. If this is too expensive, corral your animals at night or use guard dogs to protect your property.

The use of poison is illegal in Florida.

 

 

 

Shannon L. Ruby is the Natural Resources/Agriculture Agent with the University of Florida/IFAS and Lee County Extension Service. To submit questions, call 461-7515 between 9am and 4pm or send questions to 3406 Palm Beach Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33916-3736 or via e-mail at rubys@leegov.com.