Dozens gathered from neighborhoods in Windermere and nearby Ocoee on Monday evening to learn more about their newest pesky 4-legged neighbors, coyotes.
Joy Hill, spokesperson for Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, helped lead the discussion held at the Christ Community Church. "We are not their prey, but what we provide for them is garbage, cats, small dogs," she said. "That's what coyotes are attracted too."
Neighbors told FOX 35 that several small dogs have fallen victim to coyotes. One coyote expert said people need to change their habits and not let their animals go out by themselves to do their business. Another expert said owners should spend the five to ten minutes outside with your pet and bring them inside when they are finished.
Some neighbors said they've been approached by coyotes when they are walking their animals. The best advice for that situation: pick your dog up and be as big and bad and loud as you possibly can be, and make lots of noise until the coyote leaves. If you have a larger dog, keep it close to you on a shorter leash.
The panel of experts told the crowd to get creative with an arsenal of tools and tactics they use to scare coyotes. Simple tools like tennis balls to throw at the coyotes, a can filled with pennies to rattle and make noise, or a garden hose if you're in your own yard.
Hill and a professional trapper told the concerned crowd that catching coyotes should be a last resort. The trapper said removing them will only work for a few days, or weeks, at best. He said that, if there is still a food source in the area, another family of coyotes will move into the area.
Other tips include: waiting until the morning of garbage pick up to put your cans to the curb, and picking up berries and fruit that fall off trees, because coyotes like to eat them.
In short, eliminate the food source and haze the coyotes until they change their behavior.