Coyotes spilling into residential areas

PALM BEACH COUNTY, FL (WFLX) - A problem spilling over from rural to residential areas has people on alert.

Coyotes might not be on your radar if you're out walking your dog, but after recent sightings, one expert shared why you need to be more vigilant. "Coyotes are all over the state of Florida. We've seen a steady increase since the 1970s," said David Hitzig of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary.

From rural to residential, they're appearing in areas, like Abacoa in Jupiter, darting across the landscape. Females are breeding right now, and Hitzig says there's one good reason for it. "There is nothing to keep coyote populations in check -- no big predators. Florida panthers are endangered species; red wolves no longer exist."

From ducks to sea turtles, you can find them in the sand going after our areas most prized possession. But that's not the only prey. Reports indicate small dogs have been attacked.

In fact, a southern California neighborhood is on alert for a wild pack of coyotes seen racing through the streets -- even chasing a man walking his dog! "There's a lot of speculation coyotes are danger. I would gather to say your dog or cat has greater chance of getting hit by a car than attacked by a coyote," said Hitzig.

So what do you do if you encounter one? Hitzig says there's an easy way to scare it off. Fill a can or a water bottle with rocks and shake it at the animal. You won't see it again.

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