The City of Port Orange recently made headlines when the Lone Oak subdivision had to contend with a rat infestation problem.
Recent coyote sightings have made some Port Orange residents nervous again.
Public Information Officer Christine Martindale stated the city’s animal control department knows there are coyotes in the city, but they haven’t had any calls recently about any sightings and city officials are not concerned.
Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette stated, “I have not seen one myself but I have seen the talk of the coyotes on social media. There seems to be an uptick in sightings like I’ve never seen here before, so I am curious as to why they’re migrating here. To live in Florida is to live close to nature and that means living close to possible perils as well. I have not heard any reports of real issues but I suspect like most animals, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.”
Whether there should be concerns or not depends on who you talk to. Local social media is chock full of commentary both for and against having coyotes as neighbors.
On Nextdoor Cross Creek, Laura Baker of Port Orange posted, “One less luncheon or gathering and that expense should pay for part of the expense of removing the coyotes. And keeping it under control. It obviously has gotten out of control when they are walking the streets with us! If the coyotes keep multiplying there will be so many, they may as well start charging them to live here!”
Others don’t fault the coyotes but blame the growth of buildings and development as to why animals like coyotes have no choice but to become more visible and more aggressive searching for food.
Within city limits, coyotes have recently been spotted in Cypress Head, King’s Landing and on Taylor Road. Others citizens have reported hearing them howl. This reporter saw a large one just hanging out on Beville Road (close to Port Orange) just watching cars go by and not long ago another one walking along Williamson Boulevard in Port Orange and also Willow Run Boulevard.
Coyotes can be found in every county in Florida and in every state. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, removing coyotes for the purpose of eradication is an inefficient and ineffective method to control populations. New coyotes move into areas where others have been removed. Removal activities, such as hunting and trapping, place pressure on coyote populations, and the species responds by reproducing at a younger age and producing more pups per litter; populations can quickly return to their original size.
Coyotes help maintain balanced ecosystems by controlling the populations of rodents and smaller predators, such as foxes, opossums and raccoons, and even insects, such as cockroaches. Human conflict is almost non-existent, but coyotes can and do prey on domestic and feral cats, and small dogs.
The FWC website states, “Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or in the early evening or morning hours (dusk and dawn). To protect your pets, do not allow them to roam freely. Keep cats indoors. Free-roaming cats are at a high risk of being preyed on by coyotes and other animals. Walk small dogs on a short leash that is less than six feet, especially at night, dusk or dawn. Be extra careful if you are going to walk your pet in wooded areas or areas that have heavy foliage, where coyotes may rest.
“Feeding coyotes is illegal. They will lose their fear of humans. Secure garbage cans. Clean up pet food and fallen fruit,” the website states. “Secure livestock in predator-resistant enclosures. Keep pets in enclosed areas. Coyotes are not large animals and rarely pose a threat to people, especially adults. They can be curious but are also timid and generally run away if challenged. If a coyote approaches too closely, there are methods you can use to deter it and frighten it away. Hazing the animal by making loud noises and acting aggressively will typically cause a coyote to leave an area.”
For more information, call (352) 732-1225 or visit myfwc.com.