TEMPLE TERRACE — Residents of Temple Terrace are being warned to keep a close watch on their pets because of an increased number of coyote sightings in the area.
A message on the city's web site advises residents to learn about precautions to keep their pets safe from the predators by going to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's web site.
Coyotes are found in every state except Hawaii and all 67 counties in Florida, according to the commission.
"The medium-sized canine, a close relative of the domestic dog, is extremely adaptable and can be found in rural, suburban and urban landscapes. They are typically shy and elusive but encounters between people and coyotes in Florida are occurring more often,'' the commission states.
The average coyote weighs 28 pounds and rarely poses a threat to people, particularly adults. They generally run away if frightened, and the wildlife commission site offers tips on scaring it off with loud noises and other actions.
To discourage them from prowling on your property, you should never feed them, even unintentionally by leaving pet food outside, or leaving fallen fruit and spilled birdseed in the yard. Secure garbage cans and compost and close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds to prevent them from raising their young in those areas.
Keep pets, especially cats, in enclosed areas and use a short leash to walk your dog.
"Removing coyotes for the purpose of eradication is an inefficient and ineffective method to control populations. New coyotes move into areas where others have been removed. Removal activities such as hunting and trapping place pressure on coyote populations, and the species responds by reproducing at a younger age and producing more pups per litter; populations can quickly return to their original size," according to the wildlife commission.
Report aggressive behavior to The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at 863-648-3200 or, after hours, at 888-404-3922.