MANATEE -- Coyote predation in Manatee County, which has some pet owners desperate for answers, has apparently claimed another small animal.
After a cat fell prey to a coyote June 9 in the 3500 block of 24th Avenue West in Bradenton, it looks like a 10-pound Maltese dog was fatally bitten June 17 in Bay Lakes Estates off Cortez Road.
Like the owners of the cat, the dog’s owner, Melody Sweetman-Carpenter, was shocked by the death of her pet and wants to warn other pet owners that it seems Manatee County’s highly residential areas have been invaded by hungry coyotes.
The two pet predations are the only ones that have been reported in detail to the Bradenton Herald, but there likely have been others as coyotes spread across the county and the state.
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“I can’t describe the grief,” Sweetman-Carpenter said. “Ari was the most loving little dog. She even loved squirrels and ducks.”
Ari’s family members let her outside the front door for a few moments last Friday morning to relieve herself when they heard a yelp.
Ralph Adamczyk, Sweetman-Carpenter’s boyfriend, found Ari bleeding profusely from a bite to her jugular vein. The dog died in his arms seconds later. The family suspects one of the four coyotes they have seen in the area bit the dog and then ran when hearing a human.
Sweetman-Carpenter’s first reaction was to figure out how to legally kill the coyote that got Ari.
“We don’t want anyone else to go through this,” Sweetman-Carpenter said.
Discharging a firearm in residential areas is unlawful as is poisoning since other wildlife can also die, said Gary Morse, a spokesman with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
A bow and arrow is legal, as is trapping, Morse said Monday.
But Morse would rather see Ari’s owners and other pet owners in the residential part of the county practice prevention and coyote “general harassment” rather than try to exact revenge on these individual animals, which have become brazen because food sources are plentiful.
“Yes, you could go after them with a bow and arrow, but their species has a hormone response that causes them to reproduce quicker when their population is threatened with elimination,” Morse said.
“A fence is the best protection from predation from coyotes, bobcats and alligators,” Morse added.
In rural Manatee County, ranchers and farmers have been dealing with coyotes for years, and they do something that helps protect their pets and prolongs the life of the coyote -- they harass them, Morse said.
“It’s almost a given rule that rural coyotes don’t bother anyone because farmers and ranchers get after them,” Morse said. “Urban coyotes are rarely harassed by people so they are more comfortable being around them. Urban people think it is cruel to harass these animals. This is a mistake.”
Morse recommends city dwellers keep an air horn around and give the coyotes a blast. Banging pots and pans, screaming, and stick waving, all are harassments that get the message across to stay away from humans and their pets, Morse said.
“Anything that helps the coyotes keep their distance is good for man and good for coyote,” Morse added.