CITY OF ATLANTIC BEACH COYOTE REPORT
Updated October 2018
SIGHTINGS. The public is strongly encouraged to immediately report coyote sightings by calling your local law enforcement agency and to dial 911 if you feel you are in imminent danger. Also, people who are concerned, have questions, or are having specific issues with coyotes can call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (386) 758-0525 or (888) 404-3922. In Atlantic Beach, please report coyote sightings by calling Atlantic Beach Animal Control at (904) 247-5866 and/or Email Animal Control. If you are aware of past sightings, please encourage the people who had the sighting to call in their own firsthand experience. Additionally, when possible, please provide us the contact information of anyone who has seen coyotes recently and who has information related to coyotes attacking pets. We want to hear their stories. If residents have taken photos of a coyote in Atlantic Beach, we ask that they share the photos with us by Emailing Animal Control.
AVOID ATTRACTING COYOTES. Attractants such as pet food, garbage, bird seed, fallen fruit, small free-ranging pets, etc. are commonly what bring coyotes into communities. It is important to keep cats indoors, and dogs should be walked on a short leash and supervised while outdoors.
COYOTE BIOLOGY Coyotes are considered naturalized to Florida and very rarely pose a danger to humans. Much like alligators, people with coyotes in their area should just be aware of their presence and take simple precautions. Coyotes are found in every county in Florida. Coyotes live in most urban areas in the U.S. and have lived in our area for years.
Coyote bite incidents involving humans are extremely rare. As long as people are not feeding them, either intentionally or unintentionally, coyotes are generally fearful of humans and will run away if a human challenges them or comes near them.
People can also use hazing techniques (such as yelling, throwing rocks, using air horns or pepper spray, etc.) to scare the coyotes away as they see them. Coyotes are generally not a threat to people and are usually easily scared off. Persistence pays when hazing coyotes! If wildlife is accustomed to neighborhood sounds it will take more hazing at first to encourage them to move on, but they can learn to avoid humans if hazed.
Below are some links with very useful information pertaining to coyotes
SUBJECT-MATTER EXPERTS. The City of Atlantic Beach considers the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Humane Society of the United States, the University of Florida, and USDA Wildlife Services to be subject-matter experts on this topic. Thus, the City will profoundly consider those entities’ perspective and information upon developing courses of actions.
TRAPPING. While experts from the above groups tend to agree that the best approach to coyote presence is to minimize attractants in order to better coexist with them, it is legal in Florida to kill coyotes year-round. Local weapons discharge ordinances must be followed. It is legal in FL to take coyotes using box traps or snares without a permit; coyotes may also be taken using steel leghold traps with an approved permit from the FWC. Call the FWC’s North Central regional office to apply.
Coyotes qualify as nuisance wildlife if they: cause or are about to cause property damage, present a threat to public safety, or cause an annoyance in, under, or upon a building. Live captured nuisance wildlife must be humanely euthanized within 24 hours of capture or trap inspection. Live captured nuisance wildlife may only be transported for the purpose of euthanasia or legal release. Native nuisance wildlife may be released on the same property of the landowner where captured, or off the capture site if the release site is private property, a minimum of 40 contiguous acres, in the same county of capture, and the person releasing has in their possession written permission from the landowner in advance. Nuisance wildlife may not be released on public lands or private lands without prior written landowner permission.
FOLLOW-UP FROM THE SEPT. 19, 2018 FWC COYOTE BIOLOGY EDUCATION WORKSHOP IN ATLANTIC BEACH.
Here is a video of the presentation: https://atlanticbeachfl.swagit.com/play/09202018-636
Here’s the FWC PowerPoint presentation: https://www.coab.us/DocumentCenter/View/10335/Coyotes_Atlantic-Beach_-2018-min-Compressed
Here’s an effort to address some of the prevailing concerns/questions presented by residents at the workshop.
- What is the City doing about coyotes in Atlantic Beach? We primarily are doing three things: listening to our residents; consulting with subject-matter experts; and communicating to our residents via our various communication channels. Some of you said yesterday that you would like more communication from the City about this issue. We’re stepping up our game, as a result. Expect us to share more information more often from our subject-matter experts. And, of course, contact the City anytime at email@example.com.
- Why doesn’t the City reduce or eliminate the coyote population by killing these animals? Few people in our community have asked the City to do this; still, it’s a very legitimate question. Thus far, this course of action is not supported by the science, the experts in the field, or a large segment of our residents. Still, we’ll continue to be open-minded moving forward as we fact-gather and listen to the community’s concerns.
- Does Atlantic Beach really have coyotes greater than 100 pounds as claimed by a trapper? We don’t think so. FWC says the largest documented coyote in Florida weighed less than 40 pounds. The trapper has been asked to turn coyote carcasses over to FWC for documentation, DNA testing, etc.; we hope he’ll do that.
- A picture says 1,000 words. Please continue to share any photos or videos you have of coyotes in Atlantic Beach.
- Feral cats. Unless you support the existence of coyotes in your neighborhood, please encourage your neighbors not to feed them. And please help spread the word.
- When can someone shoot a coyote? Our biggest concern is where those bullets go when they don’t hit the target or go through the target and hit another object. Per State Law FSS 790.15, discharge of a firearm is prohibited within a residential area. The City of Atlantic Beach recognizes this with Ordinance 13-3. This section does not apply to a person lawfully defending life or property -- if, under the circumstances, the discharge does not pose a reasonably foreseeable risk to life, safety or property. The person discharging the firearm must prove that they were in fear of imminent danger, death or great bodily harm -- or defending another person or their property. There is case law to support that a pet is actual property. If you feel as though you or a loved one (including your pet) are in danger, you can defend yourself or your property. If you choose to fire a weapon, you will need to be prepared to articulate the necessity to fire the weapon. Typically when a firearm is discharged within the City and officers are summoned, a report is written. The Police Department will then consult with the State Attorney’s Office for a final determination as to whether the discharge was justified. It will be up to the State Attorney as to whether or not an arrest warrant would be issued based upon the totality of the circumstances.
QUESTIONS? Email Deputy City Manager Kevin Hogencamp.