CITY OF ATLANTIC BEACH COYOTE REPORT
Updated October 2018
The City of Atlantic Beach has received reports of coyote sightings at various locations throughout the community.
As such, the City Manager’s Office is working with the Police Department in a fact-gathering capacity to determine what steps to take, if any, beyond public education.
Meanwhile, while our fact-gathering is ongoing, following is the City’s current message to the public. This report may be updated as the City obtains more information and perspective.
SIGHTINGS. The public is strongly encouraged to immediately report coyote sightings by calling your local law enforcement agency and to dial 911 if you sense imminent danger. Also, people who are concerned, have questions, or are having specific issues with coyotes to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at (386) 758-0525. In Atlantic Beach, please report coyote sightings by calling the Atlantic Beach Animal Control at (904) 247-5866 and/or Email Animal Control. If you are aware of past sightings, please share that information, as well, and provide an approximate time, date and location of the sighting. 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.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED. Attractants such as small free-ranging pets, pet food, garbage, bird seed, fallen fruit, etc. are common culprits that bring coyotes into communities. It is important to keep all cats indoors and dogs should be kept on a short leash and supervised while outdoors. 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.
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 aforementioned entities tend to agree that the best approach to coyote presence is to coexist with them, procuring a licensed coyote trapper is among the courses of action the City could consider. It should be noted that per the FWC, trapped coyotes usually must be euthanized. Relocation is only an option in specific, extraordinary circumstances; please contact the FWC for additional information.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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.
FEB. 12, 2018 STATEMENT FROM THE ATLANTIC BEACH POLICE DEPARTMENT. We have been talking with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC, which also utilizes research from the University of Florida and the United States Humane Society) for a couple of years now about coyotes.
There was a public meeting and town hall last year where FWC answered our questions and those of our residents. There was lots of good information shared. What we did learn from our meetings and discussions is that coyotes cannot be relocated as they will return to the area. Also, if you kill coyotes, other coyotes will replace them and female coyotes will have larger litters. Coyotes are found in every single county in Florida. And the largest coyote pack is located in the City of Chicago. Coyotes have lived in our area for years without any issues.
Coyotes are considered nuisance animals that very rarely pose a danger to humans. Much like alligators, people with coyotes in their area should just be aware of their presence. There have been no known coyote attacks on humans in Florida and, as we learned by talking to FWC, coyote attacks on humans are exceedingly rare. As long as people are not intentionally or unintentionally feeding them, coyotes are fearful of humans and will run away if a human challenges them or comes near them.
Below are some links with very useful information pertaining to coyotes. If you come across a coyote that is behaving strangely or aggressively you can call FWC at (888) 404-3922. If it is an immediate emergency, you can call 911.
- FWC page on living with coyotes
- U.S. Humane Society Coyote Page
- FWC General information about coyotes page
- Urban coyote research in Chicago
- The Urban Coyote Initiative website,
QUESTIONS? Email Deputy City Manager Kevin Hogencamp.