An El Portal police officer was on routine patrol Monday when he spotted a coyote wandering around Northeast 91st Street and First Avenue.
The chance encounter prompted a warning to residents on social media: “It’s not a dog... so be careful!”
On Tuesday, El Portal Police Chief David Magnusson said the department had not received any calls from residents, but when the officer spotted the wild animal, he wanted to make people aware that it is there.
“Coyotes may not be into selfies,” he said. “Just let it be.”
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, coyote sightings are common. The wild canine, which can weigh about 30 pounds, has been seen in all 67 Florida counties, FWC said.
“It is important for the public to be aware of coyotes and other wildlife living in their areas,” FWC said in an email Tuesday. “This way, the public can prevent conflicts with wildlife before they start.”
On July 4, the village of Miami Shores warned residents to be cautious of coyotes ahead of its annual Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Miami Shores Country Club.
“If you are heading to the golf course tonight for the fireworks, please BE AWARE! Coyotes have been sighted on the golf course,” the village shared on Facebook. “For your safety: DO NOT: Attempt to Approach them or Feed them.”
While coyotes don’t pose a threat to humans, the FWC does warn people that coyotes prey on small animals, including cats and dogs.
“To protect your pets from coyotes and other wildlife, it’s important to keep cats indoors and dogs on short leashes or in well-fenced yards when outdoors,” the FWC said.
This is not the first time a South Florida city has spotted a coyote. In April, the Pembroke Pines police department warned residents there was a coyote on the loose.
“Pet owners should use caution when letting out your pets, and humans should never attempt to feed or approach a coyote,” the department said at the time.
Here are some tips from the FWC to avoid conflicts with coyotes:
▪ Always keep garbage cans covered. Pet food should be in sealed containers and fruit that has fallen from trees should be immediately picked up.
▪ Livestock should be kept in enclosures.
▪ Don’t ever feed coyotes.
▪ Walk dogs on short leashes. Keep pets inside.