Ugly coyote worries Clearwater moms

Halloweeen trick-or-treating at risk

CLEARWATER - At first glance, the picture looks like a scrawny, black and tan German Shepherd.  But the animal crouched on the grass is no dog.  It's a coyote, with seemingly little concern being in the limelight.

And that's what's concerning residents in Clearwater's Glenwood neighborhood.  A coyote sighting alarmed homeowners because the usually shy animal responded with a snarl and an aggressive stance.  

"The fact that this one yesterday was out in broad daylight and was acting erratically is indicative it could be rabid," said Allison Lyon, whose two small children often spend time outdoors.  Lyon is frustrated that her concerns haven't been shared by authorities.

"We called animal control, city of Clearwater, code enforcement, the police, and unfortunately we can't get anyone to help us out and take care of this problem," Lyon said.

Officials at Pinellas County Animal Control had left the office early Friday, and didn't return calls about the coyote complaints.

Sema Van Bomel snapped photographs of a coyote walking across her street and into Lyon's yard.  She said some of her neighbors have mysteriously lost their pet cats, and suspected the coyote may be hunting domestic animals.

"I have four dogs.  And me and my husband, we take the dogs for walks," Van Bomel said.  "Now I'm actually scared to do so."

With Halloween on Wednesday, having a coyote roaming the area doesn't sit well with many parents who were planning to take their kids door to door in the early evening.  

Still, Alicia MacKay said she has seen the coyote in the neighborhood off and on for a couple of years.  She took the close range picture showing the animal sitting in the grass across the street from her house.  Her daughter, Natalie Mackay, 6, recalls the scary encounter.

"My mother chased it down the street," the little girl said.  The child's mom said she's researched coyote behavior on the internet, and found no reason to keep her kids indoors on Halloween.

"They eat small animals," MacKay said.  "I'm not concerned at all."

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