Sunday, May 14, 2006

Eating crow over coyotes

A few weeks ago, a friend said he saw a coyote out in the woods. "There are no coyotes in Florida," I thought, assuming he had mistaken a feral dog or a fox for the rangy little critter. It turns out I was wrong.

I saw this coyote the other day, when I was on an assignment just over the county line. The manager of the property said he's shot several coyotes recently. They're considered a varmit here, as well as out west, but their numbers are growing.

Varmits though they may be, seeing this one was a thrill for me. I haven't seen one since I was a kid, living in Texas. I hope this li'l gal lives a long-coyote life.

Here's what the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has to say:

"The coyote (Canis latrans), once strictly a western species, now occurs throughout the eastern United States. Coyotes began expanding their range into the Southeast in the 1960s, reaching northwestern Florida in the 1970s. In a 1981 survey, coyotes were reported in 18 of Florida's 67 counties. A similar survey in 1988 reported coyotes in 48 counties. They are most numerous in northern Florida, but their numbers appear to be increasing state- wide. The eventual occupation of the entire state is likely.

In addition to their natural range expansion, coyotes have been illegally trucked in from western states and released. Documented releases of coyotes have occurred in Gadsden, Liberty, Columbia and Polk counties. In Polk County, coyotes were released by a local fox hunter who believed he was stocking a depleted fox population with animals sold to him as "black fox." Coyotes are extremely adaptable; just about any type of forest or farmland is suitable habitat. Most of Florida, with the possible exception of the densely populated cities and the expansive saw grass marshes of the Everglades, is suitable coyote habitat."

Wiley coyote, sensing the presence of pesty paparazzi, hightails it.

Development probably poses more of a threat to coyotes and creatures like wild turkeys, a coyote-lunchtime favorite, than shotgun-armed farmers. Wal-Mart is trying to buy potato fields next to these groves to build a mammoth distribution center. The area, next to a nice lake, is now zoned farm and rural residential. Locals oppose the center, which they say would would destroy their quality of life and put 800-1,000 trucks a day on now-quiet two-lane roads, and through little country towns.


Pisco Sours said...

Do not, I repeat, do NOT give the coyote atomic-powered roller skates, batwings, or earthquake pills. That's just asking for trouble!

Saint Pat said...

Heh-heh-heh! And especially beware the Acme brand line of atomic devices.