Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas County launches information campaign on coyotes

EAST LAKE — Responding to concerns about increasing encounters with coyotes in East Lake Woodlands and other communities, Pinellas County has launched an information campaign to help residents deal with the problem.

"Coyotes are not domestic dogs," wildlife expert Jeanne Murphy said. "Coyotes are wild animals."

Murphy spoke Monday night at Crescent Oaks Country Club during a meeting of the Council of North County Neighborhoods, which has grown to represent 14,000 residents. The group's leadership is meeting with county officials monthly and tackling issues important to the people who live there.

Murphy, a consultant who was on county staff until her job was eliminated more than a year ago, said coyotes are about the height of a German shepherd, but the weight of a cocker spaniel. Coyotes can have wide variations in coat color.

They have a natural fear of people, she said, but they will lose it if we don't keep instilling it in them. "They become more bold," she said.

She suggests yelling, stomping feet, carrying a stick or cane, wielding a water-squirting gun.

Like all animals, coyotes need food, water, shelter and space, she said. They are very intelligent and opportunistic.

"In humans, we would call it an entrepreneur," she said.

They eat rabbits, rodents, carrion, raccoons, wild berries, fruits and vegetables in the wild, she said. They will also eat garbage, bird food, pet food, cats and small dogs.

Coyotes are territorial and if you have one in your neighborhood that's behaving well, you don't want to remove it, Murphy said, because a more aggressive coyote could replace it.

To keep the danger to humans from coyotes in perspective, Murphy said dogs bit 1,300 people in Pinellas County in 2008 and more than 20,000 people since 1995.

There has been no documented case of a coyote biting a person or a coyote with rabies in the county, officials said.

If you see a coyote, keep your distance and back away, officials say. Make it feel unwelcome without cornering it or confronting it directly.

But if a coyote poses an immediate threat to safety, a representative of the county Sheriff's Office said they will respond.

"If you need us, call us, we'll be there," said Deputy Ted Thompson of the community policing unit that covers East Lake.

Other issues covered at the meeting included an update on ballfields for the East Lake Youth Sports Association and status reports on the county's projects to widen Old Keystone Road and improve drainage in Tarpon Woods subdivision.

Ballfields: On Tuesday, Paul Cozzie, the county's director of culture, education and leisure, said the price tag for the facilities the youth sports association hoped to build on Old Keystone Road is too high.

The estimate came in at $9.6 million for four multi-purpose fields and two big-league baseball fields with lights, restrooms and parking.

The ground there would have to be elevated for fields, he said, and that's expensive.

"We're looking at some options," he said. "It wouldn't be anything more than practice facilities if anything."

Road widening: The Keystone Road widening project is moving ahead, Joe DeMoss, the county's project manager, said Tuesday. Well over half the 80 or so parcels the county needs to buy have been purchased, he said. "We're hoping to acquire all the property by Oct. 1," DeMoss said. "Our goal is to be under construction by the first of the year (2010)."

Drainage project: One part of the long-awaited Tarpon Woods drainage project will soon be under way, according to county officials.

Plans are nearing completion for a work order to install backflow preventers to prevent Brooker Creek from backing up into the subdivision through the storm drainage system. A contractor will buy valves and install them in May, the county estimates.

The next phase of the project, installing drainage outfall pipes, is in process. The consultant has submitted 60 percent of the plans to the county for review.

The county estimates work will start in early 2010 and be completed in about six months.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at or (727) 445-4170.

Fast facts

Next meeting on coyotes

The next presentation on coyotes will be at 7 p.m. on April 30 during the Unincorporated Seminole Community Association meeting in the Seminole Library, 9200 113th St., Seminole. Pinellas County Animal Services staff and Cpl. Dan Doherty of the Community Policing Unit for the Seminole area will provide information. Dale Armstrong of the Pinellas County Extension will talk about planting Florida-friendly landscape before the subject turns to coyotes. The county is scheduling additional coyote information meetings. Call (727) 464-4600.

To join CNCN

The Council of North County Neighborhoods would welcome any neighborhood associations interested in joining and any individuals interested in serving on committees that monitor and advocate for North County issues. They will have a town hall meeting with all the County Commissioners at 7 p.m. on May 18 at the Crescent Oaks Country Club, 3300 Crescent Oaks Blvd. Go to or call Don Ewing, Jr., CNCN president, at (727) 560-5586.

Pinellas County launches information campaign on coyotes 04/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 21, 2009 7:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: Florida's jobless rate looks great — but 25 other state rates look even better

    Economic Development

    No debate here: Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop — even as more people move to Florida and enter the workforce. What's not to like?

    Who remembers the remarkable lines of hundreds of people looking for construction work in Tampa back in March of 2010 at a job fair at the Encore construction site near downtown Tampa? Now the construction industry is struggling to find skilled workers to meet building demand. [
  2. Tampa police investigating fatal shooting at Busch Boulevard motel


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a shooting at a motel near Busch Gardens that left one woman dead.

  3. On the Camino de Santiago, Day 21: Tears of love and parting mark the beginning of the final leg of a pilgrim's journey.


    Day 21: León to Hospital de Orbigo: 32.6 km, 8.75 hours. Total for Days 1-21 = 498 km (309 miles)

  4. Pinellas detectives investigating shooting that led to car crash

    Public Safety

    LARGO — Pinellas Sheriff's detectives are investigating a shooting that investigators said led to a man crashing his car after he was shot in the abdomen early Tuesday.

  5. Trump tweets, McCain return set stage for health bill vote (w/video)


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump urged Republicans to "step up to the plate" for Tuesday's crucial Senate vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Obama health care law. The stage was set for high drama, with Sen. John McCain returning to the Capitol to cast his first vote since being diagnosed with brain …

    President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and others, speaks about healthcare, Monday, July 24, 2017, in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington. [Associated Press]