Coyote Attack Spurs Action in Community

After losing her beloved pet in a coyote attack in her own front yard, a West Bradenton resident is pushing for a campaign of education and awareness.

Clarification: Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie said he plans to discuss the coyote problem on a conference call Thursday with representatives from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida’s Institute of Agriculture Services. The rest of the county commissioners will not take part as a board, and it will not be a private meeting.


Still in mourning after her beloved dog , a Bradenton woman on Tuesday tried to spur action so others don’t have to go through the same thing.

Melody Sweetman Carpenter’s pet Maltese, Ari, died June 17 from a wound to her jugular — a wound which, according to Sweetman Carpenter’s veterinarian, was inflicted by a coyote.

The attack occurred on Sweetman Carpenter’s front yard in her West Bradenton neighborhood, where residents are concerned with the prevalence of coyotes that have become increasingly common in communities throughout Florida in recent years.

Instead of grieving in silence, Sweetman Carpenter has begun to take action. She has already posted a sign in her front yard warning her Bay Lakes Estates neighbors, and her boyfriend, Ralph Adamczyk, has placed fliers in 140 mailboxes throughout the neighborhood.

Sweetman Carpenter also founded an awareness group called Arresting Renegade Invaders (ARI) to address the situation. On Tuesday, she was granted permission to speak for 15 minutes at a Bay Lakes Homeowner’s Association meeting. Following Sweetman Carpenter’s presentation, a group of concerned citizens gathered outside to continue the dialogue for more than an hour.

During the meeting, Sweetman Carpenter stressed that her goal is to raise community awareness, not to encourage citizens to take to the streets on a coyote hunt.

“I’m not condoning people to just come out and start hunting them. We don’t want a bunch of hunters coming out and trying to kill these animals,” Sweetman Carpenter said. “That could be really dangerous.”

Instead, Sweetman Carpenter’s goal is to pass legislation to have official signs posted warning of the danger of coyotes.

“We had no idea there were coyotes in our neighborhood,” said Sweetman Carpenter. “If someone had told us, we would have been a lot more careful.”

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie attended the meeting and said he agreed that education and awareness are the first steps toward finding a solution. Chappie said on Thursday he and representatives from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and the University of Florida’s Institute of Agriculture Services are planning to discuss the problem in a conference call.

“I can only educate people on the problem, not remove the animals myself,” said Chappie. “The purpose of Thursday’s meeting will be to figure out who is responsible to respond to the problem, and to figure out ways to educate the public and raise awareness.”

Lisa Hickey, an extension agent for UF’s Institute of Agriculture, plans to lead community discussions geared toward educating the public on how to deal with a coyote problem that's on the rise in Manatee County. She said the only areas of Bradenton she hasn't received coyote complaints from are Anna Maria Island, Holmes Beach and Longboat Key.

“Killing coyotes is not the answer,” Hickey said. “If we do that, they will only extend their habitat further. .. As long as they still have a food source, they will continue to expand their population.”

Hickey said coyotes have become naturalized in Florida, and though they tend to be afraid of humans, that fear has lessened as they become more prevalent in communities.

She said there are little things residents can do to deter them, such as not leaving pet food and water bowls outside that would draw coyotes or their prey into residential areas. She also advises that citizens make sure to cover their trash.

“If you are approached by a coyote and it doesn’t back off, that can mean one of two things: Either the animal is rabid, or it’s an alpha female protecting her cubs,” Hickey said. “Make a loud sound, carry a whistle of a foghorn, spray it with a garden hose, or open an umbrella in its direction. The more we deter them, the better safety we will have.”

Becky Pomponio of Project Coyote also attended Tuesday’s meeting and seconded Hickey’s advice about trying to modify coyote behavior.

“There’s an old saying that says, ‘The dumbest coyote is smarter than the smartest dog,’” Pomponio said. “Coyotes have proven themselves to be the most intelligent and adaptable animals in the wilderness. There is hope that we can modify coyote behavior, and we haven’t begun to do that yet.”

Sweetman Carpenter and her boyfriend have already begun to modify their behavior. The couple rescued an 8-week-old Maltese/beagle mix this weekend, and although their gated community does not allow them to have a fenced-in yard, they said they are highly vigilant regarding the puppy’s safety. It’s leashed and supervised at all times, their yard is well lit, and whenever the couple is outside with their dog, they make noise to deter coyotes that may be nearby.

“The most important thing we can do is be aware, do our homework, and pay attention,” Sweetman Carpenter said. “It is our responsibility to be vigilant and protect our animals.”

B.R. Smith June 29, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Where is Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men with bows and arrows and night vision goggles to take out these predators? Where are the fishermen with their nets to trap them? Where are the dart guns with knockout punch to relocate these wily characters? What rules or guide lines are there since guns and poison are illegal to use? Is this a governmental responsibility for safety and welfare or a vigilante action which can create other risks and safety concerns? What does one do with trapped or euthanized coyote? Is reporting required? Is some hotline available to begin pinpointing areas of activity? Can they be tracked by electronic collar to locate the habitat to take all of the pack out? What entity will take the responsibility for some infant or child death or severe injury? Are we a reactive or proactive community? Are we not all responsible for letting our thoughts known to give impetus for action if such is wished? What is the risk relative to loss of life by car accident, drowning, drugs/alcohol? Probably low but the first one will be sensational if there is a risk. What is the record of coyote attacks on humans across the country? Does media need to research this more and provide factual information for a bit versus sensational anecdotes.? Inquiring minds want to know.
Wendy Herndon June 29, 2011 at 01:02 PM
How heart breaking, Melody. My sympathies go out to you. I have 2 beloved furry friends and I can only image the horror that you went through with this experience. Thanks for raising awareness so that others will be able to protect their pets. Turning a horrible experience into a blessing for others... THAT'S a kind and generous act!
melody June 29, 2011 at 03:19 PM
Thank you Wendy :) I sure am trying and will continue to do so.
Wendy Herndon June 30, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Really? You're taking THIS sad experience as a platform for ranting about your neighbor's SAID, POSSIBLE- lapse in good judgement? Wow... what a way to start my Thursday... reading this heartless and scathing attack - kicking someone who is obviously already down. I'm an animal lover and believe that a pet owner should take care of their pets as if they were family. Loving them is our privilege... protecting them our responsibility Having said that... no one is perfect and uses good judgement all the time. I'm not sure if what you are saying about your neighbor rings true, Alexa, but even if it is the truth... are you pure enough to be casting the first stone? Maybe there are things that you could improve upon in your life too? A little kindness and tolerance for our imperfect world and its citizens... goes a long way. Who knows... you might need someone to show you the same generosity some day when you make an unwise choice.
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Alexa, Who are you to judge? Would you allow your child to play in your front yard, or do you keep the little bastard on a leash as well? You are one inconsiderate cunt. Melody's dog was in her front yard, not yours. The dog was attacked in front of their home, not roaming around the neighborhood. Quit acting like a "holier than thou" bitch and realize that this is not about "Melody's Fame". Melody is simply trying to raise awareness of the danger of the coyotes. I too was shocked when I heard about Ari's untimely departure. You are absolutely out of line by attempting to insult her for making others aware. You better be glad I don't want to go back to prison you douche bag bitch or I would hack your account, get the IP you log in from and find your house and come in and take a giant shit on your pillow. You are a waste of life. If I were you I would shut the fuck up before you really upset people.
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Alexa, You are seriously out of line. How dare you attempt to insult someone for raising awareness about a threat to animals and people in her community? Ari was in her front yard, not running amuck in the neighborhood. Wake up. Jack a$$
melody June 30, 2011 at 03:30 PM
Thank you Gagal
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Alexa, Do you keep your kids on a leash when you walk them in your front yard, or do you live in the trailer park down the street and don't have a yard?
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Alexa, Sunny shores... That's it... I'll bet you rent a trailer in there you waste of space.
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:32 PM
You fucking shmuck alexa. I can't want to take a piss in your milk jug.
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:32 PM
ALEXA IS A DOUCHE BAG June 30, 2011 at 03:46 PM
Very well said. I was saying the same things earlier in response to someone else's comment, but all of my replies keep getting deleted for some strange reason... I guess the mods don't like me talking about pooping on pillows...
Janine Wertalik Gregor June 30, 2011 at 10:02 PM
There is no need to place Melody on the defense. There is no need to rehash the error in judgment in letting her dog out without a leash. What is done is done. Instead of using this platform to point fingers at mistakes, look at the positive information that has come out of this tragedy. Many more people are now educated about the coyote problem than ever before. As for the sign, I saw the misspelling too but did not say anything as it I thought that there would be a time and place to bring that error forward given that Melody was still grieving for her dog. It seemed insensitive to do so.
Susie June 30, 2011 at 11:23 PM
Susie All you have to do is look at the tons of blogs Melody and she also goes by mylaike(spelling not sure of) on patch and bradenton.com to see who the real BULLY is! it is MS. MELODY SWEETMAN herself, she threatens bloggers with nasty names all the time and tells them to shut up & that they have no right to comment on her never ending story unless they agree with her . She should leave the coyote leadership issues up to the REAL EDUCATORS like Lisa Hickey, and the representatives from project coyote but she does like everyone else in America have the right to speak but do not try and threaten and intimidate others .
melody July 01, 2011 at 01:09 AM
Thank you so much Janine, this means a lot to me. I did not make the sign, but also realized it was wrong. I had to go with it as there was not time. It iwll be fixed. Thank you again!! Melody
Al July 02, 2011 at 02:20 AM
You violated the ordinance. Get over it.
melody July 03, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Dear Janine Thank you... I had the sing designed by someone else in a rush. it is going to be fixed, but I sure appreciate your sensitivity Bless you Melody
melody July 04, 2011 at 04:21 PM
I meant sign.. Geeze I should be checking my spelling errors


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