CLEARWATER, Fla. - Allison Lyon wants her two young daughters to have fun dressing up for Halloween. But this year, their plans have changed.
"We are not going to be trick-or-treating in our own neighborhood. We're concerned about the coyotes. We're concerned about taking our children out at night," Lyon said.
Lately, a coyote, photographed by a neighbor, has been making an appearance in their Clearwater neighborhood during the middle of the day.
"Usually they're just after food. And once the food source is taken away, they'll move on," explained John Hohenstern, Senior Animal Control Officer with Pinellas County Animal Services.
Coyotes have been in Pinellas County since the seventies; and their numbers continue to grow. Looking at the map of sightings on the county's website, it's clear that coyotes blanket the entire county.
"You know, we get reports that people see coyotes everyday. And usually, it's yes I saw a coyote and he was walking down the street," Hohenstern said.
But Allison Lyon says the coyote has bared its teeth and once followed a teenage girl for a short time.
"There's been coyote sightings in this neighborhood for many months, but I think the most recent change is that they are now coming out in broad daylight and going into our yards. I mean that really is crossing a line," remarked Lyon.
Officials say coyotes dislike attention and the best method to get the coyote to go away is to scare or startle the animal with noise. Lyon says she'll continue to inform neighbors to create awareness, but understands there's little else she can do.
"There have been several communities that have banded together and hired trappers to try to move the coyote out of the neighborhood. To my knowledge, I don't know of any trapper that's been successful in catching a coyote in Pinellas County," Hohenstern said.
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