Coyotes target Colony, Catholics

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This week residents reported several coyote sightings and what appears to be a coyote hit and run incident.

On July 16, a resident saw what he thought was a wolf and video taped the intrusion by the animal onto the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort. Then later that same day, a driver called in that he had hit a coyote by the Harbourside Golf Course. On July 18, a coyote was also witnessed by police distressing drivers and pedestrians in front of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church.

Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming makes clear this is not the first time a coyote has been sighted on Longboat Key. In this week’s incidents, a resident called the police to not only report what he thought was a wolf on the Colony property, but added that he had video taped the trespasser. When Officer Nagell arrived on the scene and reviewed the video, he concluded the animal was a coyote that appeared healthy.

Only two hours later, another call came into dispatch alerting police of a coyote that had been struck by a vehicle along the Harbourside Golf Course along Bay Isles Parkway. When police arrived, there was no sign of a coyote and the alleged driver had left the scene.

Two days later and about two miles north of the previous sighting, a call alerted police to a coyote that was wandering in and around St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church. When police arrived, they observed the coyote wandering around, unafraid of the police or pedestrians.

Chief Cumming said he believes it is likely one coyote that has been traveling the mid-key area, and was generally living in the woods behind St. Mary’s Church. Cumming estimates the coyote weighs in at 40-50 pounds and characterized the threat level to Longboat residents as “very slight.”

The chief said most of the companies he called that specialize in wildlife removal, simply wanted to shoot and kill the wild animal. This did not sit well with Cumming.

“I want the animal removed humanely and relocated. The animal appears healthy, was not threatening and may have already left our area,” said Cumming.

For the time being, the police department will be on the watch for any coyotes and will be monitoring the woods by St. Mary’s to see if a habitat and living area manifests. If that happens, Cumming said he has a contract that he has not signed yet wherein a remover will come at a cost of $900 and relocate the animal.

As to how the coyote got on Longboat Key, Cumming believes it ran over the bridge, likely in the middle of the night when there is little traffic.

The police said that coyotes generally do not present a danger to humans, but adequate distance should be maintained when they see one. Any resident who sees a coyote on Longboat Key is encouraged to call Longboat Police.

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