ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - Some residents in Atlantic Beach are growing more concerned with coyotes in their neighborhoods.
“The wildlife is down I’d say 75 percent in the last two years,” Bill Viola, who has lived in Atlantic Beach’s Oceanwalk neighborhood for 30 years, told First Coast News.
Viola said over the past two years, he’s noticed a significant uptick in the number of coyote sightings in the neighborhood, along with the number of neighborhood cats that have disappeared.
“80 cats missing,” he said.
About two weeks ago, Viola tried to get his own cat into the garage for the night, but the cat refused.
“And then the next day my neighbor called me and said ‘Bill, there’s a piece of a cat on my lawn,’” Viola said. “What was left of his head, a spine and feet.”
Some concerned Atlantic Beach residents have launched a new Facebook group, called “Atlantic Beach’s Growing Coyote Problem” to discuss the issue.
“What’s really promoted the current discussion, I think, is that two citizens say that their children saw a family pet killed by a coyote,” Atlantic Beach Deputy City Manager Kevin Hogencamp said.
Hogencamp said the city has been working with Florida Fish and Wildlife on the issue since 2016. They’re also working with the police department to figure out what steps, if any, need to be taken beyond educating the public about how to coexist with coyotes.
While they haven’t ruled anything out, Hogencamp cautioned trapping, and consequently euthanizing, coyotes may not have the desired result.
“Science says that actually could result in a repopulation of coyotes greater than when you started eradicating coyotes,” Hogencamp said.
A pamphlet by FWC and the University of Florida available inside Atlantic Beach City Hall explained that coyotes compensate by increasing litter size and new coyotes move into areas where others have been removed.
Additionally, according to FWC "no humans have been the target of [coyote] attacks in Florida."
The City of Atlantic Beach has an entire web page dedicated to information about coyotes including how to report a sighting, what to do if you see one and what could be attracting them to your community. To learn more, click here.