Thursday, September 27, 2018

Post-Hurricane Irma last year: Do you recall the increased number of cats roaming Central Palm Beach County?

How many of those cats ended up in shelters?
How many got killed by coyotes?

Message below from Monroe County — which includes the Florida Keys — about when and not when to report a Coyote sighting to the Sheriff. Click on image to enlarge:

Yes. Coyotes are here in South Florida. And they are here to stay. Coyotes hunt cats. And little horses too. And they are fond of chickens as well.

UPDATE: For those of you interested in coyotes and concerned about feral and roaming cats, pet goats and pigs, and other small critters there is news below from The Washington Post you may find very interesting and informative. And as we are well into another Hurricane Season read more below about what happened prior to Hurricane Irma last year in one city in particular: the coastal City of Lake Worth.

How many of those cats were “dropped off ” by those fleeing evacuation zones on ‘The Island’ not knowing when they would be allowed back into their condo, apartment, or home?

From the editor at The Palm Beach Post:

“Communities with TNVR programs tend to develop even bigger cat-dumping problems than before the effort began. . .”

Is it time for the City of Lake Worth, and other cities as well, to take another long look at Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Release (TNVR)?

Has Lake Worth, because of its efforts promoting TNVR, become one of the County’s destinations for “cat-dumping” of unwanted or unhealthy cats? From the City’s website:

Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League is currently offering free surgery for domestic and community cats [emphasis added] in the 33460 zip code.

Read more about this topic below, including news from Palm Beach Post reporter Bill DiPaolo who has since retired. Surprisingly, Mother Nature may have its own answer to the problem of roaming and feral cats: coyotes. Did you know coyotes are established in every state in the United States? Below is an excerpt from this recent article in The Washington Post by journalist Darryl Fears titled, “Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast”:

     Stanley D. Gehrt, an Ohio State University professor and wildlife ecologist who runs the Urban Coyote Research Project, which studies coyotes in the Chicago area, said in a recent interview that coyotes “are extremely flexible and adaptable to different kinds of environments … they’re generalists for sure, so generalists tend to do pretty well in cities, but they also benefit once they move into cities.
     “Their primary source of mortality in rural areas is now removed, and that was people. You might wonder: How can that be removed? That’s because you don’t have hunting and trapping occurring in the cities. The cities actually act as a kind of refuge for coyotes once they get established.”

Please continue reading about cats, TNVR, coyotes and news about two little goats called Buttercup and Candy.

This blog post examines several issues, several of which our City has had to deal with for a very long time. For example, several months prior to Hurricane Irma in September 2017 another animal was attracting attention from the press and news media which prompted these questions asked on this blog, “How long before coyotes begin roaming and hunting in our little City of Lake Worth? Or are coyotes already here?”

And why having coyotes in our parks at night
and roaming the City’s alley network is
not such a bad thing after all.

How do coyotes factor into controlling the feral cat population? Can coyotes, as stated below, “help restore biodiversity, enrich parks, and counteract decades of environmental damage”? Do TNVR programs for cats even work to control the population or does it make the problem worse, e.g., the continuing devastation of indigenous bird populations? Cats hunt birds and coyotes hunt cats.

“While TNVR theoretically should cut down feral cat populations, several studies have shown that they rarely do.”
—Editor, Palm Beach Post (see editorial below).

And have you ever heard of the book published and titled, “Coyote Settles the South”? Learn about all these topics and much more later in this blog post.

Without further ado. . .

Warning! Never feed coyotes: These animals have a tremendous fear of humans. When people feed coyotes the animals lose that fear. That is not good for anyone. Especially those with small pets.

Are coyotes roaming the streets and alleys of Lake Worth now? Maybe. But unless one has a motion-activated camera during nighttime you would never know. Coyotes are one of the most stealthy animals around and very careful to avoid the notice of humans. They rest during the day, hunt at night, and coyotes are especially fond of one animal in particular: cats.

Reports began coming in 2015 of coyotes near Greenacres. Is that a bad thing? The reports were of coyotes hunting feral cats which are a big problem in Palm Beach County, especially so in Lake Worth. Another excerpt from the editor at the Post:

“Communities with TNVR programs tend to develop even bigger cat-dumping problems than before the effort began, because people feel emboldened to just release their unwanted animals. And the reality is, animal control programs rarely have the resources to actually trap, sterilize and release the thousands of animals that are out there.”

Last year Post reporter Bill DiPaolo wrote this article titled, “Coyotes blamed for killing two pet goats in Jupiter Farms”; an excerpt:

“Two-year-old Buttercup and 3-month-old Candy, both female Nigerian dwarf goats, were killed between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. while they were in an outdoor area surrounded by a 4-foot-tall wooden fence. The goats — Buttercup weighed 50 pounds and Candy about half as much — were taken to a nearby veterinarian.
     The vet confirmed the bites on the neck and head were from coyotes, said , a lifelong resident of the rural, unincorporated area west of Florida’s Turnpike.”

In the comment section of DiPaolo’s article
is this comment:

“Give credit where credit due. I credit the Coyotes for eliminating the feral cats from our community. Back in the day, I would see feral cats everywhere, every day. Then the Coyotes showed up and it has been months sense we last saw a feral cat. Hats off to the Coyotes for doing their part in keeping the balance of nature alive and well.

The County has essentially conceded that TNVR is the plan until an idea that actually works comes along. Coyotes may be the answer.

Below is an excerpt from The Palm Beach Post editorial board, “Editorial: Wildlife protection must factor into cat release plans”.

     That [TNVR] sounds like the perfect solution, except that it’s not really. Even well-fed cats retain their hunting instinct, and continue to kill significant numbers of wild birds and animals. One study found an outdoor domestic cat is capable of killing 60 birds and 1,600 small mammals in an 18-month period.
     There are so many species of animals that are vulnerable to predation by house cats: ground foraging brown thrashers, oven birds, palm warblers and water thrushes; tiny tree frogs and green anolis; marsh rabbits and Florida mice.
     While TNVR theoretically should cut down feral cat populations, several studies have shown that they rarely do.

Anyhow, back to the coyote:

Watch this news report from CBS2’s Weijia Jiang
from Long Island City, NY:

This article in Slate raises some interesting points. First, you can hardly call coyotes a nuisance because they have a tremendous fear of humans and are virtually impossible to find. The video above is a rare one of a coyote roaming (hunting?) within a city’s borders. And you could argue that coyotes are good for public health and the environment. Here is an excerpt from the article:

     Gehrt [Stanley Gehrt, head of the Cook County Coyote Project] and his team have just completed a large-scale feral cats study, which found that coyotes are repelling them from natural areas within the city. “That has a positive impact on native fauna,” Gehrt says—cats kill a lot of birds. [emphasis added] Recently, researchers at the Illinois Natural History Survey have also been considering white-tailed deer, which are responsible for a remarkable number of automobile accidents; findings suggest that coyotes are making a dent in their population through fawn predation. Out of 15 fawns collared this season, Gehrt says 11 have already been taken by coyotes.
     All of this would seem to be good news for the New York metropolitan area, which could certainly use a better form of rodent control than dangerous poisons. Even a fraction of the effects seen in Chicago could help restore biodiversity, enrich parks, and counteract decades of environmental damage.

Use this link to learn about the book written
by John Lane in 2016.

“A personal narrative about the arrival and flourishing of the American coyote in the Southeast.”

Image from Wikipedia.