City to gather coyote population data in next few weeks

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Sep 25, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

The city in the weeks ahead will evaluate data on the number and any threats posed by coyotes roving the island.

Sea turtle nest disruptions and other concerns prompted the placement of monitoring cameras in about a dozen spots, said James Evans, the city’s Natural Resources director, who cautioned residents have little to fear from the wily coyote, although pets can be at great risk. Lee County reports coyotes killing pet cats in Cape Coral.

“At the end of sea-turtle season,” Evans said, “we will figure out our next steps. We do everything based on biological data.”

Sea-turtle season ends in late fall.

Coyotes were first reported in Sanibel in 2011, although locals say it has been much longer. One Sanibel man reported in April that his small dog was targeted by a pair of coyotes in a morning confrontation. The same man in the last week reported that coyotes were howling in a couple of spots off West Gulf Drive.

Evans said a city worker spotted a coyote crossing San-Cap Road in August. He said the animals are foragers, feeding on anything from sea grapes to crabs and rats.

But they’re also opportunistic. Pet owners for years report coyotes making off with small dogs and cats. The animals are in every state, wildlife officials report. Most coyotes keep safe distances, hunting at night or the early hours.

Evans said cameras so far have photographed bobcats, marsh rabbits but no coyotes. The cameras are motion activated and are moved around the island, he said.

Sanibel is not alone in its challenges with coyotes. Lee County Domestic Animal Services received DNA results from three recent reports involving the remains of cats. All of the deceased cats tested positive for coyote DNA. The county reports come on the heels of more coyote sightings in Cape Coral.

Lee County Domestic Animal Services cautions pet owners to be vigilant in protecting their pets, particularly cats and small dogs. Animal Services strongly suggests not leaving pets unattended outside. It is also advised not to leave pet food outside and ensure that garbage cans are tightly closed.

An added challenge is that coyotes multiply quickly, Sanibel’s James Evans said. A female can deliver up to 10 pups. Food supply constricts litter size. Sanibel is about 67 percent undeveloped, meaning lots of places to roam for food. They move as food dwindles. Digging sea turtle nests is what most aggravates the city and wildlife authorities. Turtles are protected, although there’s no indication the coyotes pay attention to the posted signs.

“Every few nights (you) hear them howling,” said Duane Janikula, the resident whose dog was threatened in April. Janikula chased the coyotes off before they could harm the Yorkie, Simone. “But I’m not really concerned, no.”

Article source: http://www.captivasanibel.com/page/content.detail/id/524505/City-to-gather-coyote-population-data-in-next-few-weeks.html?nav=5051

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