Tag Archives: Sewall’sPoint

“Clever Coyote,” Not Going Away, SLR/IRL


Like it or not, “Coyote” is here, and coyote is not going away. He is clever; he is ancient; and he is a master at adapting to his environment, as are we—humans. We have met our match.

Of course because both are “canines,” coyotes can mate with our friends, domesticated dogs. This is documented out west; they are known as “coydogs.”  Hmmmmm?

"Coyote and Road Runner" was a cartoon my generation grew up with but he was not always so smart!
Warner Bros. “Looney Tunes,” “Coyote and Road Runner” was a cartoon my generation grew up with. Unlike in real life, “Coyote” was not always so smart!

Coyote Road Runner Cartoon: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz65AOjabtM)

Don’t get me wrong… the first time I read that coyotes were “here,” in Marin County…the first time I saw Bud Adams’ picture on the back page of “Indian River Magazine,” the hair went up on the back of my neck. Old wives tales and ancient fears gripping me….

Since that time, I have read a lot and learned more. I am cautious but not afraid. In fact my roommate at this month’s University of Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute class was a coyote expert for the Florida Wildlife Commission. We stayed up late into the night; she showed me photos of all the things coyotes eat and told me first hand stories of how places like Hernando County, Florida, are dealing with the issue.

I sat in silent awe….

One of the most interesting things she shared was that the population of coyotes goes up the more populated an area is–you would think the opposite. “Coyotes have moved in and adapted so well we sometimes wonder who the suburbs were actually built for, us or them.” Her excellent article is at the end of this post.

Last night at a Sewall’s Point Commission meeting, a resident came forward during public comment to report about the coyotes in her subdivision. Passions flared! The discussion included guns, protected wildlife, unprotected wildlife, trapping, not leaving out cat food, not leaving out cats, as well as not leaving your small dogs or small children outside unattended. In the end, it was decided comprehensive town education was the best approach.

.....public image.
Coyote, public image.

I find my self struggling with the image of coyote. Last night after the meeting, I took a walk and kept waiting for one’s red eyes to shine in the reflection of my iPhone. At every corner I was sure one was standing….They do intimidate me, but I am intrigued with their success. I respect them.

This animal is deeply associated with Native Americans who of course “we” eradicated. Remember the Seminole Wars? The US relocation plans? Not that long ago really.  Perhaps this is our karma?

For many Native American tribes the coyote, known as a trickster for his ability to “be everywhere at once,”  was the most powerful of creatures. In fact, it was believed that tribal members of tremendous power could “shift” shape into a coyote achieving amazing things….Why the coyote? The reasons are many, but one is because “Coyote,” just as in the Greek story of Prometheus, —-(also a clever trickster)—-brought fire from Heaven to the Earth, betraying the Gods, to help us survive.

Perhaps there is a greater message here? I don’t know…but it has me thinking…One thing is for sure: smart, master-adapter, coyote is here in Sewall’s Point, and throughout Martin County. And he is so smart and adaptable that “he is not going away.”


—Coyotes are now reported in all 67 counties of the state of Florida. They also live throughout much of the nation.

–Due to agriculture/rancher and landowner complaints, California spent 20 million dollars to eradicate coyotes with no success and now ironically the population is perhaps higher than ever.

—Coyotes are omnivorous, like people, eating everything especially insects, pet food, vegetation, road-kill, rodents, and “trash.” Thus they adapt easily.

—-Coyotes have flourished and spread since the human eradication of the larger canine family wolf —in Florida and through out the U.S.  When top predators are removed others expand.

—Coyotes hunt in family groups not “packs, or alone; ” They mate for life and their social nature is part of their success.

—Read article below for tips on how to live and/or deal with coyotes.

Public image...
Public image of an attractive coyote.

FWC article coyotes by Angeline Scotten: (http://hernandosun.com/coyotes_in_hernando)

All on Board for Fertilizer Ordinances-Indian River Lagoon

The River Kidz protest HB 421, Fertilizer Preemption, in 2011, Town of Sewall's Point. (Photo Nic Mader)
The River Kidz protest Florida HB 421, that would have preempted the fertilizer ordinance of Sewall’s Point. (Photo Nic Mader, 2011)

Fertilizer has certainly been a hot topic over the past few years and for me this movement is one of the great hopes that the Indian River Lagoon has a chance of surviving.

Fertilizer ordinances, specifically those with “black out periods,” started on the west coast of Florida over a decade ago as activist around Tampa Bay and Sarasota decided to fight for their waters. They have had great success after great losses and now Tampa Bay has more sea grasses than it did before World War II, due mostly to its BE FLORIDAN program that the National Estuary Program is now trying to bring to the IRL. (http://www.befloridian.org)

Although there had been talk years ago of fertilizer ordinances on Florida’s east coast, they really didn’t  catch on until  the Town of Sewall’s Point adopted a “strong” fertilizer ordinance, a “black out period,” or no fertilizer use during the rainy season (June-November, for SP)  in 2010. I am proud to say I was a big part of that movement with the support of the Sewall’s Point Commission.

It was Commissioner, to be Mayor, Jeffery Krauskoph, in 2009, who gave me the idea to push for such an ordinance in the Town of Sewall’s Point. The City of Stuart had actually passed the first in the area, however;  it did not have a “black out period” and the Sewall’s Point ordinance does.

Ironically, last night the City of Stuart was petitioned by fertilizer activists from Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St Lucie and Martin counties to push for a “stronger” fertilizer ordinance and Stuart in fact adopted, by first reading, the Martin County ordinance, a “strong” fertilizer ordiance.

The perils of fertilizer were first majorly documented in  the research of the National Reasearch Council’s, Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution, in 2000. Dr Brian LaPointe and and Dr Margaret Leinen of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute both sat on this national committee and Dr Leinen even testified before Congress. (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9812)

The book scientifically states ” the problems caused by nutrient over enrichment are significant and likely to increase as human use of inorganic fertilizers and an fossil fuels continue to intensify.” The scholarly publication notes strategies for “control” and tells the story of synthetic fertilizers created after World War II and how they transformed not only agri-business but suburbia, and how this, hand in hand, with over development, has lead to the steady demise of our beloved coastal estuaries. In many cases, such as the Gulf of Mexico, fertilizer from farms along the Mississippi River have created “dead zones.”

I am on the board of Harbor Branch’s Foundation and I once asked Dr Leinen, (who now is now the Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences and Dean of the School for Scripps Institute of Oecnograpy in California,) “if you testified before Congress on this problem, why didn’t they listen; why didn’t they do anything? ” She smiled at me and kindly and replied, “Jacqui, politics often overrides science.”

I stood there and had one of my “realizations…”

On a positive note, what  I love about fertilizer ordinances the most, is that the “people” have embraced them as they realize the fertilizer problem is something they can directly and positively affect. As the public puts “skin in the game” for the direct benefit of their rivers, springs and estuaries, they expect this of their politicians as well. This is the  beauty and and power of fertilizer ordinances; it is politics on its most revolutionary level, that of “the people….”

At this time, “strong” fertilizer ordinances have been adopted in the Town of Sewall’s Point; Martin County; Indian River County; St Lucie County;  Orchid Island; Indian River Shores; Vero Beach; Brevard County; and are at first reading or being “worked on or discussed” in Stuart; City of Port St Lucie, Jupiter Island; Ocean Breeze; Fellslmere; Palm Shores; Melbourne Beach; Sebastian; Rockledge; Satellite Beach; New Smyrna Beach; Cocoa Beach and most likely a handful of others. Marty Baum, the Indian River Keeper, and others to be commended for taking the time to travel and advocate.

Like wildfire, communities along the Indian River Lagoon are taking into their own hands a part of the puzzle to save their lagoon. And the dolphins, manatees, seagrasses and and fish are smiling and hoping that this is just the start! As Dr Grant Gilmore said at the 2013 Harbor Branch Symposium, “it is the people, not the government, that will save the IRL.”