MANATEE -- A woman who lost her Maltese dog to a coyote in her well-groomed subdivision off Cortez Road has started a coyote awareness group named for her pet.
Melody Sweetman-Carpenter’s 10-pound pet, named Ari, was fatally bitten June 17 by a coyote after it was let outside her Bay Lake Estates home for just a few moments to relieve itself.
Her new group, ARI, stands for Arresting Renegade Invaders.
“We need to figure out a way to get the coyotes in residential areas of Manatee County back under control by the use of organized trapping,” Sweetman-Carpenter said.
There have been numerous cases of coyote predation on small dogs and cats reported in the past few weeks in subdivisions across the county.
Sweetman-Carpenter said the mission of ARI is to have coyotes legally trapped in heavily residential areas of Manatee and relocated to areas where they can prey on wildlife, rather than people’s pets.
Sweetman-Carpenter is scheduled to speak during a 15-minute agenda item about coyote predation during a Bay Lakes Homeowners Association meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The meeting will be at the Senior Family Center behind Anna Maria Oyster Bar, 6696 Cortez Road.
“Bay Lakes has graciously permitted me 15 minutes to speak about coyote predation at their meeting, but when the meeting is over, at about 7:30 p.m., anyone who wants to come and talk to me is welcome,” Sweetman-Carpenter said.
“I would like to do something about this, but I need manpower to help me,” Sweetman-Carpenter added. “I need a place to have meetings. I need people to make phone calls. I need sign makers and, most of all, we need serious trappers.”
Mark Gallagher, a resident of Bay Lake Estates, which is near 86th Street West and Cortez Road, has taken a morning walk from 5 to 5:30 a.m. for years and feels like he knows the coyotes’ routine.
“They come out of about 4,000 acres of farmland just east of 86th Street West during the night and they hit Bay Lakes Estates, Coral Shores, Mt. Vernon and Cortez Village,” Gallagher said. “They come back through the neighborhoods as the sun is coming up. That’s when I think they got Melody’s dog, on their way back to the fields.”
Gallagher has called Manatee County to remove the coyotes and, like all residents, he was told to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission tells the residents it doesn’t have the resources or manpower to remove Manatee’s nuisance coyotes.
“They told me coyotes are not endangered and I could kill them, but you can’t discharge a firearm here or poison them so we have no solution to kill them,” Gallagher said.
Trapping, poison darts and bows and arrows are all a bit above Gallagher’s pay grade, he indicated.
Sweetman-Carpenter has researched that it would cost from $10,000 to $15,000 to trap all the coyotes in her subdivision.
“Most working people like myself can’t afford professional trappers,” she said. “We need help from volunteers who will want to get the word out about their businesses in exchange for service.”
Gallagher believes ARI’s best function will be to get the word out about coyotes.
“I think the big thing is awareness,” Gallagher said.
Sweetman-Carpenter can be reached at 761-1352 or at email@example.com.