Coyotes of the Indian River Lagoon

Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet and have made their way to the Indian River Lagoon. (Photos, public, Florida coyotes.)
Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet and have made their way to the Indian River Lagoon. (Public photo, ” Florida coyotes.”)

Coyotes are here along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Coyotes were historically associated with the American West, but now they are now in most states and have been reported in 66 of 67 Florida counties, other than Monroe. There is no one to thank for this but humans. With the near eradication of the the American wolf and family of big cats related to the mountain lion since the 1800s, coyotes have no natural predators, other than man, and thus the coyote has flourished.

Most recently, along the Treasure Coast you many have read about Indian River County using cameras to see if coyotes are raiding sea turtle nests, or the controversial trapping and killing of the coyotes at Witham Field in Stuart interfering with plane landings, or the many residents in Palm City or western St Lucie County, who say they hear coyotes howling at night. Coyotes have also, within the past six months, been reported in the Town of Sewall’s Point, in the vicinity of South River Road on the south end, and Castle Hill in the north.

Photo of coyote in south Sewall's Point on River Road. (Courtesy of Sewall's Point Police Department.)
Photo of coyote in south Sewall’s Point on River Road. (Courtesy of Sewall’s Point Police Department, 2014.)

As a long time resident of Sewall’s Point, I love the wildlife and encourage all to live in harmony with these animals. They are God’s creatures and they keep the rat population down! I have seen both grey and red foxes, as well as many bobcats. I have friends who swear in Sewall’s Point’s earlier days, they witnessed panthers.

But I have yet to see a coyote. Unlike native bobcats who are solitary animals, unless mating or raising young, coyotes usually hunt in pairs and belong to a pack of about six members.

Coyotes are in the dog family and are related to wolves, foxes and domestic dogs. Coyotes and dogs can mate although this is unusual as coyotes have specific social ties and  mate only once a year. When dogs and coyotes do mate, the hybrid offspring is called a “coydog.” Coydogs are well documented out west and are said to make poor pets, as more often than not, they are very high strung.

The photo below is a grey fox for comparison. Coyotes are taller and weigh more than foxes; in our area sometimes weighing up to 30 pounds, whereas  a fox may be closer to 12.

Grey fox. Both grey and red foxes are much smaller than coyotes. (Public photo.)
Grey fox. Both grey and red foxes are much smaller than coyotes. (Public photo.)

Should we be scared? I don’t think so. We just need to be smart, coy and cautious, like the coyote.

Many Native American myths laud the craftiness of “coyote” and often in Native American mythology, he is so respected, he is  portrayed as the “Creator.” He is respected for being “ubiquitous,” as he is so successful, “he appears to be everywhere at once,” or “seems to appear everywhere at the same time.” He is not to be outsmarted.

One thing for certain, now that coyote is here, chances are, he will not go away. We must learn to live with him by keeping our distance, not leaving pets out for long periods unattended, in the evening or early mornings,  and by not feeding him. He is smart enough to feed himself.

It is said we all have a bit of fear  in our inner most nature, as the collective memory recalls the earlier times of fires and wolves, but then humankind tamed the wolf and hence today, we have “man best friend,” our dogs.

Coyote/Dog tracks
Coyote/Dog tracks

Remember that the coyote is related to dogs if you see him, and if you look him in the eye ask for a sliver of his adaptability and success surviving on an ever changing planet and an ever changing Indian River Lagoon.

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Florida Coyotes: (http://www.floridiannature.com/Coyote.htm)

Florid Wildlife Commission:(http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/mammals/land/coyote/)

History, Eradication of Wolves/Rise in Coyote Population:(http://www.wolfweb.com/history2.html)

Coyote/Native American Mythology:(http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/coyote.html)

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I added this photo from Dr Gary Goforth 8-13-15 that was taken this February in Foxwood off 96 A in Martin County.

Shared by Dr Gary Goforth in Foxwood, Martin County.
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA G. Goforth
 MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA by Dr Goforth.
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA G.Goforth

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I added this link on 8-13-15 written by my classmate Angeline Scotten whom I met last week at the UF Natural Resouces Leadership Institute. She is an expert on the subject of coyotes for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. This article was written for Hernando County but certainly applies to us as well. I found it very informative. (http://hernandosun.com/coyotes_in_hernando)
 

 

14 thoughts on “Coyotes of the Indian River Lagoon

  1. About two months ago in April, while waiting for the street light to change, I saw a coyote at the intersection of A1A and Sewall’s Point road cross from the NE corner to the SW of the intersection and disappear behind the Town Hall!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Bob. Thanks for letting us know. Please try to take a photo. My friend Gary Goforth lives in Foxwood off 96A and this is a photo taken with one of those night cameras not too long ago. If you go back to my blog post again I have posted these photos at the bottom. Just got its head though… https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/05/coyotes-of-the-indian-river-lagoon/#comment-10774

      Last night I went outside a 3:00 AM to view the meteor shower. I was thinking about coyotes! Saw one great flash but no coyotes!

      Like

  2. Hi Jacqui,
    I came upon your blog while looking for information about coyotes in Stuart, because… Last night, I was out with my dog at 12:30 am and saw a coyote run down Pelican Dr.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Karen, Thanks for report.
      So that location is by St Lucie Blvd and Dixie…I believe City of Stuart has scheduled for Angeline Scotten from FWC to speak about coyotes at the City of Stuart at 10am on April 19th. She is a in my UF Class and very knowledgeable. I will be posting on Facebook about this. Education is helpful. Thank you so much for your report—such lets people know where they have been reported…That must have been something. I am waiting for the day I see one but with Luna our new big black Shepard–they may run!

      Like

  3. Actually, the street is just off East Ocean Blvd, about a mile and a half east of downtown Stuart, and a bridge away from Sewall’s Point. My husband saw a coyote on the same street about 10 months ago. Back then, we were surprised but figured it was an animal passing through. Now, I’d say they are managing to live here. Four years ago, we lived next to the Seabranch Preserve off Cove Rd. I never saw a coyote there, but late one night, I heard a frenzied cackling sound of several animals. They seemed to be in pursuit of something in the preserve. I immediately thought they were coyotes. I wasn’t surprised because there are some wildlife corridors in Hobe Sound. I am surprised to see a coyote in my current neighborhood.

    Liked by 1 person

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