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Public should know of Palm Harbor coyotes

Published Aug. 28, 2005

On Tuesday, our dear cat Alice went missing. On Wednesday, my son took one of our standard poodles and searched the park adjacent to our home. The dog found Alice's collar, along with some tufts of fur. Later we returned to the park and found some more fur, with skin attached.

Thursday morning, we read the letter from Mr. and Mrs. Paul Steffens of Palm Harbor about the tragic loss of their cat, Jacob, to coyotes (Coyote problem deserves immediate attention, Sept. 16).

I have just spoken with Mrs. Steffens and learned that we live in the same area of Palm Harbor, in subdivisions along Alderman Road. I knew there were coyotes on the other side of Alt. U.S. 19, in the vicinity of the Girl Scout camp, but I had no idea that they had been sighted in our area.

Some people may think that, as is the case with alligators, we have displaced the coyotes from their natural habitat. This is not so! Coyotes are opportunistic invaders that will settle and breed where food (house cats?) is abundant.

I have no wish to subject the coyotes to a fate worse than that suffered by Jacob and Alice. But their population must be monitored by the county and the public warned of the threat that the coyotes present.

Margaret Kickliter, Palm Harbor

Coyote population needs to be thinned to protect pets, kids

Re: Coyote problem deserves immediate attention, letter, Sept. 16.

Coyotes in Palm Harbor are no less of a problem than coyotes in Woodland Hills, Calif., which is where my son lives. He recently wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Times in which he stated that the animal rights activists have banned the trapping of these animals as cruel and inhumane _ yet, he asks, what of the cruel and inhuman suffering he and his family endured as a result of finding the remains of their pet beagle strewn about their back yard? The doggie door was inadvertently left open one night with the resulting horror the next morning.

The cruel and inhuman suffering of all pet owners must end with the rights of citizens to set traps for these pests restored or, as letter writers Mr. and Mrs. Paul Steffens ask, should we wait for a child to become a victim before any action is taken?

Coyotes are not an endangered species _ far from it. They are proliferating at an alarming rate and their population needs to be thinned, just as the deer population has been thinned.

It is time for us to take a stand. We have the right to protect our pets, our property and our children, so let all pet owners petition their local politicians to help us eradicate this growing menace in our midst.

Anne Woolf, Dunedin

Some animals are companions, and some are our neighbors

Re: Coyote problem deserves immediate attention, letter, Sept. 16.

To Mr. and Mrs. Steffens regarding the loss of their cat, Jacob: As a pet owner and animal advocate, I understand your sorrow at losing a valued member of your family. We would be equally disconsolate over the loss of one of our pet companions.

Having said that, I wanted to write you by way of this public forum and say that as human beings we have evolved to regard some selected species as members of our family and they, in turn, us. That is not the case with other animals. The coyote is one such creature. Driven by instinct and the individual need to survive for the species, the coyote has evolved to become not a companion but a cohabitant with humanity.

Like the alligator, bear and cougar, to name a few, the coyote has had to adapt to the environment that we allow. The unfortunate result is that we share common ground, and sometimes in sharing there is loss. Conflict on the surface may appear at times unreasonable or unjust, but in the end it provides a clear certainty that all life is sacrosanct. Often this first encounter with humans ends in misfortune for the most innocent, the family pet.

Coyotes are opportunistic hunters and will prey on any food source in their range; small dogs and cats are no exception. The fact that human companion animals and small farm livestock are attractive to the coyote is in large part why farmers very early on determined that livestock needed to be confined and protected. The same holds true in towns and cities. Animal control laws require that domesticated pets be on a leash or confined under supervision to the property of their owner. Dogs and cats allowed to roam freely will inevitably encounter other animals both domestic and wild. The results are often tragic.

Animal control officials concede that trying to eliminate the coyote would be both expensive and ultimately futile. Left to their own devices, coyotes will naturally fill the niche created when larger predators were driven out by human development. Coyotes prey on mice, rats and other small rodents, which keeps their population under control, and the impact on our environment is minimal compared with the dangerous use of poisons.

Coyotes are wary of human contact, and attacks on humans are rare. Alternately, uncontrolled dogs attack and kill increasing numbers of children in the United States each year as people continue to ignore animal control laws.

Please continue to consider most animals as your companions and regard the rest as, at the very least, your neighbors.

Harlan Weikle, Palm Harbor

Seasonal resident has no room to gripe about property taxes

Re: Seasonal residents overtaxed, letter, Sept. 14.

As a permanent, year-round resident of my beloved state of Florida, I thought that I had heard the last of the bellyaching, nonvoting, foreign, part-time residents.

The Montreal letter writer suggests that based on experience with his Clearwater Beach residence, he pays too much in taxes. He states that his situation is deeply unfair, goes against all principles of sharing municipal expenses, is un-American and a holdup. He even goes so far as to suggest that our taxing authorities stop their discriminating, unfair and cynical practice of charging higher taxes to nonvoters.

Assuming the writer has failed in his legitimate right to seek relief, he may wish to consider selling the residence and taking I-75 north across the border permanently.

James Woods, Dunedin

Unhappy with Dunedin High? You're free to pick another

Re: Many school rules not enforced, letter by Mary Moran, Sept. 17; School's rules have merit, letter by Christopher White, Sept. 13; and Dunedin High chooses which rules to enforce, letter by Keith Works, Sept. 2.

I have been following the letters regarding Dunedin High School and the cell phone rule. Ms. Moran says that it's fine to have a cell phone out while in school, but according to the Pinellas Student Code of Conduct, it is not. I don't agree with teachers' using their own phones during class time.

Ms. Moran goes on the debate with Mr. White about what she considers important issues, like cutting in line. Now that is what I call elementary school whining. The smoke in the bathroom has and always will be a problem. It was 20 years ago, when I attended Dunedin High, and will be in every school nationwide.

If Ms. Moran or Mr. Works are unhappy with Dunedin High, then they have nobody to blame but themselves. It's called school choice.

Michelle Hale, Clearwater


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