Editor's note: The story has been updated to include the correct numbers to report coyote sightings to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Days after a Bradenton resident reported her , Manatee County officials on Thursday offered residents some tips to prevent residential coyote attacks.
The warning comes less than a week after Melody Sweetman Carpenter's 10-pound Maltese, Ari Lynn, was fatally bitten by what she and others believe was a coyote in front of her Bay Lakes Estates home. Sweetman Carpenter's story has since been picked up by local media outlets and TV news broadcasts, and the Bradenton resident has formed an awareness group, Arresting Renegade Invaders (ARI), to combat coyotes in neighborhoods.
The county's animal services department on Thursday advised residents to properly store trash and to keep pets safe in order to avoid another incident.
“Problems occur when people leave food outside their homes, leave trash available, or allow their cats and dogs to roam the neighborhood,” said Animal Services Chief Kris Weiskopf in a news release. “When that happens, you’re providing easy meals to coyotes, inviting them into your neighborhood and encouraging them to lose their natural fear of humans.”
The public can report residential coyote sightings to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's hotline at 888-404-3922 or contact the FWC's Southwest Regional Office, which covers Manatee County, at 863-648-3200
Weiskopf also offered the following tips to prevent the threat of coyotes:
- Never leave pet food or trash outside where it can attract wildlife
- Reduce cover for coyotes and their prey, such as rodents and other small animals, by clearing brush and dense weeds from around dwellings
- On rare occasions, coyotes have been known to seriously injure children. Never leave young children unattended, even in a backyard
- Protect your pets. Avoid walking dogs during dawn or dusk hours, which are coyotes’ normal feeding times. Avoid using a retractable leash. When walking a pet, carry a stick, whistle or air horn
- Make sure the coyotes know that they are not welcome by making loud noises, throwing rocks in their direction or spraying them with a garden hose.
For more information visit the following online resources: