Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lost cats and yips in the night signal wily coyotes roam Largo

LARGO — When Largo resident Peggy Page's house cat, Buck, disappeared last month without a trace, she asked around the neighborhood.

Nobody had seen the shy, 12-year-old feline.

But in her search for answers, she discovered that she was not alone in her loss. Several of her neighbors were missing pets of their own.

Six cats — most of them middling in age and not as quick as they used to be — gone, all within a mile's radius.

While the usual suspects would be speeding cars or perhaps even a misguided youth, rumblings began creeping in of perhaps another cause.


In recent months, the canine predators have been seen and heard in the neighborhood more frequently — brief glimpses of the wily wild dogs at dawn and dusk, and their yips emanating from the night.

Pam Livingston lives a few blocks from Page. Her cat, Furry, vanished around July 4. "We were wondering if it was kids, or a firework mishap. We looked around, went to the SPCA — we didn't find her there," Livingston said. "The cat just went missing. I thought, 'maybe it was coyotes?' "

While the remains of Furry and Buck weren't found, an unidentifiable cat carcass was discovered. It was kitty carnage. Page described the remains of the cat as half-eaten — not far from her home near Belcher Road and East Bay Drive.

Both Page and Livingston said they now keep their other pets under close watch, and don't let them out alone after dark.

"I have a pet door, but now I have it secure at night," Page said.

The residents are wise to do so, say wildlife experts.

"That's one of the ways you know you've got a coyote problem in your neighborhood, is that you start seeing more and more of the fliers on the telephone poles, 'I'm missing my cat,' " said Welch Agnew, assistant director of Pinellas County Animal Services, in an informational coyote video produced by the county.

Coyotes may seem like a new arrival to the state. After all, they've been sighted in Pinellas County in significant numbers only in the past 20 years and in virtually every urban area of the county.

But they are actually returning to what was once part of their home range.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, coyotes started returning to the state decades ago after humans eliminated the state's population of red wolf, which are a natural coyote predator.

When they encountered urban areas, instead of being deterred, the coyotes thrived. And they may even do some good.

"Coyotes are known to prey on feral cats, an unwanted species that has been implicated in significantly reducing numbers of several species of small mammals, birds, and rodents," according to a 2007 study from the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute on the coyote impact.

Because it is believed that coyotes are here to stay, the county and some municipalities are educating their residents.

Susan Walker, neighborhood services administrator for Pinellas Park, said the number of calls about coyote sightings and attacks on pets was high enough to warrant hosting a forum about coyotes in November. "We received an e-mail from a resident who believed her cat was attacked by a coyote," she said. "There were other folks who mentioned sightings, that pets had gone missing."

One of the speakers scheduled for the forum is Wayne Salicrup, president of Trapline Wildlife Services, which traps problem coyotes. He said coyotes can adapt to new surroundings and evade capture. "It's a wild canine — they have the ability to reason more than other wild animals," Salicrup said.

.fast facts

Coyote forum

Speakers from Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Animal Capture Association.

When: 7 p.m. Nov. 10

Where: Park Station, 5851 Park Blvd., Room 202, Pinellas Park

Safety first

Tips and advice on coyotes from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission:

• Keep small pets indoors at night.

• Don't leave pet food or unsecured trash outside.

• Most coyotes are scared of humans — throw rocks toward them and yell if a coyote gets too close to you or your pet.

• There has been only one reported case of a coyote killing an adult human in North America, and it is possible those animals were in fact coyote-wolf hybrids.

Lost cats and yips in the night signal wily coyotes roam Largo 10/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 29, 2010 5:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times
  2. Flynn to invoke 5th Amendment, won't hand over documents in Russia probe, source says


    WASHINGTON — Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he notifies a Senate panel that he won't hand over documents in the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

    In this Feb. 13, 2017 file photo, Mike Flynn arrives for a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The former national security adviser will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday. [Associated Press]
  3. Department store chain from Puerto Rico coming to University Mall


    TAMPA — Grand's, a department store chain from Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in September.

    Grand's, a department store chain from n Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in Tampa in September. Coloring rendering of revamped University Mall.
[CBRE Group]
  4. Rubio on Trump: 'People got what they voted for'


    Marco Rubio says people shouldn't be surprised about the drama flowing from the White House.

  5. Mark Zuckerberg uses Facebook to address rumors he's running for office


    NEWPORT, R.I. — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says his quest this year to visit every state he hadn't before is about building relationships, not politics.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on May 21, 2017, that he's not running for public office. [The Associated Press]