Woman and her dog encounter coyotes on Sanibel Island

A run-in with a coyote might not be on the forefront of most folks minds in Southwest Florida, but that’s exactly what happened to a woman walking her dog.

Sanibel Police Department reports a woman had a coyote encounter on Sanibel Island Friday morning.

“We rent a house during the summer, bring my five grandchildren, and I just learned about coyotes,” said Karen Flaacke from Tampa. “I felt like a little uneasy about it. I didn’t even know they were around this area.”

Locals and vacationers are concerned after hearing about a woman and her dog’s encounter with a coyote.

“It’s a little bit scary,” Flaacke said. “We have a dog that comes.”

The police department said two coyotes aggressively surrounded a woman and her 50-pound dog on Anchor Drive.

“He’s an English bulldog,” said Flaacke about her own pet. “He’s got a big head, big teeth. But if we saw coyotes, don’t know what I would do. If I was with him, I would run.”

But FWC said not to run away.

“I heard that you’re supposed to scare them off,” said John Bevilacqua from Pennsylvania. “Act like you’re like bigger.”

And that’s exactly what FWC recommends people do if they come in close contact with a coyote.

“That’s good advice,” Flaacke said. “And I’m glad that you told me because I don’t know how I would react without any advice at all.”

Official said the woman was able to safely seek shelter in the closest house until the coyotes left the area.

“Since I have teenage grand kids here,” Flaacke said. “I’m going to advise them to be careful.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says coyotes are not leaving Florida anytime soon. So we looked at what people need to do if they find themselves face-to-face with a coyote.

Coyotes are not generally a threat to human safety, but they can and do prey on domestic cats and small dogs.

Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Tips if you encounter a coyote:

  • Immediately act aggressively toward the coyote. Wave your arms, throw things like stones, and shout at the coyote
  • Make yourself appear larger by standing up or stepping onto a rock, stump, or stair. Convince the coyote you are a potential danger to be avoided
  • Where coyote encounters occur regularly, walk pets at other times besides nighttime hours, dusk and dawn
  • Carry something that will make noise or scare the animal, such as a small air horn, solid walking stick, or golf club. These things may deter
    the coyote at close range
  • Make a “coyote shaker” by putting a few washers, pebbles or pennies into an empty soft drink can. Wrap the can in foil and tape closed
    Continue to make sufficient noise until the coyote leaves; otherwise the coyote will learn to wait to leave until the activity stops

Other ways to protect yourself and your pets:

  • Do not allow pets to roam freely
  • Most coyote attacks on pets occur either at night or at dusk or dawn. During these times especially, avoid walking your pet in heavily wooded or vegetated areas where coyotes could hide
  • Keep your dog close, on a short leash
  • Keep cats indoors
  • Coyotes may be attracted by food and garbage

More tips:

  • Although most of us wouldn’t think of feeding a coyote directly, indirect feeding can be just as troublesome. Don’t place food outdoors that will attract wild animals. This includes pet food, bird seed, and even water
  • Store your trash in a secure area until the morning of pickup or use animal-proof containers

“I think I’m going to be more cautious,” Bevilacqua said. “Going to make sure that I am more aware of my surroundings.”

Sanibel Police Department wants anyone who sees a coyote on the island to report it using its non-emergency hotline, 239-472-3111. For emergencies, dial 911.

For more information, see FWC’s “Living with Coyotes” guidelines.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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