People living in Florida, particularly in Boca Raton, may often witness coyotes roaming into private property or just being a general nuisance. Some have been joining in discussions on the best methods of trapping or shooting coyotes, while others are more sympathetic to the pests, arguing that residential housings have impeded upon their habitat.
The first thing we should be aware of is that South Florida is not, nor has it ever been, a natural part of coyote territory. Coyotes are native creatures to the Western United States, but even there, they hardly make an appearance in the wild, let alone in residential complexes. In fact, coyotes were first introduced to Florida in the 1920s, making their widespread presence throughout the state inevitable.
Although coyotes will do their best to steer clear of humans whenever possible, they have been known to attack humans. Most attacks occur when people – for some reason – attempt to hand-feed the wild beasts. Naturally, they are a real threat to small pets, children, and even adults.
Florida regulation considers the coyote a “nuisance species.” According to the law, it is legal to shoot coyote under the right circumstances, but you should exercise caution when doing so for both legal and practical purposes. There are certain restrictions in place regarding when we can shoot animals, but they are not applicable in cases of shooting and killing coyotes. Legally, we can hunt them during any time of the year.
However, the location in which we exercise our right to shoot coyote is a whole other concern. Under Florida law, firing a gun within the boundaries of your own home (e.g. target practice) is legal, given that the bullets do not escape your property line. The local government protects this law by prohibiting cities and countries from regulating or altering it.
That being said, if a wild coyote roams onto your piece of land, feel free to fire at will. But living in the suburbs in cramped lots makes it much more difficult to do. It’s wise to get your neighbors permission before popping caps at wild coyotes since bullet trajectories are just as unpredictable as the coyote’s thought process. If possible, get their permission in writing (via email or text message).
Of course, due to coyotes’ unpredictable nature, you might even find them wandering public streets and venues. Firing at coyotes in public places is a gray area and asking for guidance from local authorities may yield no definitive answer. Unfortunately, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) won’t provide an adequate response since their website will direct you to ask the local law enforcement.
But what about hunting coyotes in the wilderness? Are they fair game?
Short answer: yes, as long as you have the proper license. If you mention the words “varmint hunting” to a veteran hunter, the discussion will immediately shift to shooting prairie dogs, coyotes, and other bothersome critters found on mountains and prairies.
The use of the word “varmint” might seem odd. Varmint usually refers to animals that pose significant threats to agriculture, farm animals, and even human health. Ask a farmer and they’ll tell you that these creatures, including coyote and deer, still threaten their crops, baby chicks, and other farm business.
Coyotes can’t really be classified as “small game,” either since they’re not exactly thought of as “good eats.” However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no justifiable reason to take out as many coyotes as possible. Population control can be a just cause for shooting coyotes, but state game managers try to consider the bigger picture of every native creature. As mentioned earlier, coyotes are not originally from Florida, and their damaging of native fauna give them their deserving varmint title.
Coyotes wreak havoc on crops and livestock, wreaking havoc on our plants and preying on small animals. The FWC is still looking into the coyote’s feeding habits – both in urban and rural settings – to determine often they prey on birds like quails and turkeys. These varmints can be active throughout the day, but it’s more common to see one during early hours of the day.
If your aim is to effectively reduce the total coyote count, you most likely won’t leave a single dent in their population number. In fact, studies have shown that the loss of individual coyotes has triggered an increase in population.
Hunters tell stories of encountering a lone coyote during deer- or turkey-hunting season, but accidental sightings that lead to shootings is not an efficient way of hunting them. Unfortunately, some of the most effective ways of drawing coyotes to you are illegal. In Florida, you’re allowed to use mouth or handheld calls to attract coyotes and other animals, but the use of recorded or electronic calls is strictly prohibited. Another forbidden tactic to draw coyotes to the end of our barrels is the use of bait.To see more of them in a single day, you’ll have to use a call to attract them to you.
Calling and attracting coyotes is an art, similar to drawing in turkeys with enticing calls. Many people have written of calling coyotes and about which calling method works best. Try using a coyote howler, a fawn bleat, or a rabbit to get the four-legged beasts to come to you. When camping on a single spot, wearing full-body camouflage is key; coyotes have extremely good eyesight and are excellent at noticing irregularities in wooded areas. Setting up traps has potential, but they are far from being the best way to trap and kill coyotes.
There are no specific laws in Florida that regulate coyote hunting times or durations, and also there are no rules that regulate the choice of firearms or bows we can use to kill them. Statewide hunting regulations state that hunters may use all types of legal rifles, muzzleloaders, shotguns, pistols, bows, and crossbows. Name a legal firearm or hand-held ranged weapon and you can shoot a coyote with it. The best rifle calibers to use against coyotes are .22 and .22-250. If you’re up for a challenge, try and take a coyote down with bows or bolts.