VENICE, Fla. (WFLA) – The city of Venice issued a warning about coyotes. Officials are receiving more calls from people spotting the animals roaming through neighborhoods, so they’re urging residents to be careful.
Paul Szablowski has seen coyotes early in the morning and late at night. “You can see them going up and down this road here,” Szablowski said. “Running in packs of … four to six to eight.”
He’s nervous for his young daughters who walk dogs at night.
“It even got to the point that I was thinking of walking those dogs with them just to make sure they’re safe because who knows what could happen,” Szablowski said.
The animals are being spotted in increasing numbers in neighborhoods on the northern end of the island. The city even brought in a wildlife researcher from the University of Florida to look at the issue.
“They are moving north looking for different food sources,” Venice Police Chief Tom Mattmuller said.
Residents have called city officials asking if they can arm themselves. Chief Mattmuller said people should not be concerned. “I think people just need to be aware and educated on what to do,” he said.
It’s not unusual to see coyotes in urban areas. It’s rare for coyotes to attack people, but they are known to prey on pets including domestic cats and small dogs.
In addition, do not feed coyotes. Secure any trash and clean up fallen fruit from trees.
If you come face to face with one, act menacing. Do not be intimidated. “Wave your hands and shout and that should be enough to scare them away,” Chief Mattmuller said.
Szablowski hopes more awareness will protect people in his neighborhood. “I just hope the police take it serious,” he said.