Coyotes are on the move in Winter Park — and small pets are the prey.
That was the case for Winter Park resident Chris Sullivan’s Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier mix, Walle, who was killed by coyotes near their home on Lander Road last week.
This isn’t the first time coyotes have taken the life of a pet in Winter Park. In 2014, Marguerite Dykes lost three cats to wild canines near her home along Palmer Avenue.
Although Winter Park may not be a place residents would expect to see coyotes, they can live almost anywhere, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Greg Workman said.
“There are enough wooded corridors for them to survive,” Workman said. “That’s all they need. Even some of the drainage ditches for water control are enough to harbor them. They could be just about anywhere. They’re very adaptable to urban living.”
Workman said residents should avoid leaving dog food and cat food outside as well, adding that rotten fruit near fruit trees could also attract coyotes.
The commission also advised that if someone sees a coyote, he or she usually can drive them away by “hazing” them — waving arms and yelling to scare them away.
They warn pet owners to not allow pets to roam freely, walk small dogs on short leashes and ensure fences are high enough (about 6 feet) and don’t have holes toward the bottom.
Increased development in Central Florida likely would explain the coyote sightings, but Workman said the commission doesn’t know for sure.
“They’ve been around for years,” he said. “It’s just that certain areas are getting a lot more now, whether they’re being forced out of the areas where they were or the numbers may be increasing.”
Winter Park Director of Communications Clarissa Howard said there haven’t been any other reported incidents this year.