Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

TIA on the lookout for coyotes

TAMPA — If coyotes were into real estate, Tampa International Airport would probably take top dollar among the hairy, howling mammal type.

It has everything.

Rabbits. Snakes. Water to drink. Woods for shelter.

Then there's the added bonus: nearby land seasoned with scrumptious trash left by Raymond James Stadium tailgaters.

"We feel that is what introduced them to the airport," said Kenneth Johnson, assistant director of operations for TIA.

In the past 21/2 years, federal wildlife officials have removed eight coyotes from the runways and woods surrounding the airport, a spokesman said. Ten were trapped and euthanized in 2006. Twelve were caught and killed in 2001.

It's an issue airport officials deal with periodically as the state's growing coyote population searches for areas hospitable to the omnivores.

"You're never going to get rid of them," Johnson said.

Not that they don't try.

Along with birds, coyotes present a safety challenge to aircraft as they taxi, take off or land. According to the Federal Aviation Administration's National Wildlife Strike database, 297 coyotes have collided with aircraft since 1990, damaging landing gear on more than a few planes.

Seven of those have been in Florida. And one of them was at TIA in 2000.

Johnson said he found the coyote halved on the runway, killed by a Southwest flight as it took off. No one was hurt in that incident.

The most recent coyote sighting at TIA was recorded on Sept. 13 at 8 p.m., when a pilot saw something at the intersection of two runways, called it in to air traffic control, who called it in to Rupen Philloura, the assistant director of operations on duty that night.

By the time Philloura arrived to check it out, the creature had vanished.

TIA contracts with the U.S. Agriculture Department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service in Florida to monitor the animals, setting traps where it finds scat and tracks.

Anthony Duffiney, assistant state director for the agency, said the calls for assistance have risen in recent years.

The agency removes about 75 to 100 coyotes a year because of livestock threats or airport concerns, according to a 2007 study by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission.

Duffiney didn't doubt Johnson's speculation that tailgaters might be upping the standard of living for roaming coyotes.

"I think any time you've got a large group of people, you're going to have trash, and when that trash is close to the airport, there's the possibility that it will attract coyotes," Duffiney said.

It's not a distinction the Tampa Sports Authority or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to claim.

"This is the first I've heard of it," said Jeff Kamis, a Bucs spokesman, on Wednesday.

The team leases a tract of TIA-owned property on the eastern edge of the airfield and uses it for fan parking and tailgating. This includes Lots 11, 12 and 13. Kamis said the Bucs contracts with an outside firm to manage and clean the lots.

Johnson said this is the area where experts have found signs of coyotes.

Barbara Casey, a Sports Authority spokeswoman, said there are no coyotes on the land her organization uses for parking just around the stadium — the parking areas east of N Dale Mabry Highway. Cleanup crews begin aggressively cleaning before all the fans leave, she said. "It's not like rib bones are lying everywhere," she said.

Experts say coyotes appear singly, in pairs or in family groups and typically roam in areas of 10 square miles. They've grown in population in Florida. While they inhabited 18 counties in 1983, they live in all 67 counties today. They are most active at dawn and dusk. And while they do pose a threat to cats — feral and household — attacks on humans are rare.

For now, TIA is working on shoring up the 6-foot fence surrounding the airfield, ensuring any animal-sized gaps are mended.

If that doesn't work, maybe a "Not Welcome Here" sign will.

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3383.

TIA on the lookout for coyotes 11/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County

    Crime

    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts

    Editorials

    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  4. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington

    Editorials

    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.
  5. Former Marine from Florida dies fighting for Kurdish militia

    ORLANDO — A former Marine who secretly traveled to Syria earlier this year to battle the Islamic State was killed while fighting for a Kurdish militia, his father said Tuesday.

    David Taylor, with his father David Taylor Sr., was killed earlier this month in Syria while fighting for a Kurdish militia.