BRANDON, Fla. (WFLA) – They’re sly, sneaky and clever, with a nocturnal behavior based in adventure.

When it comes to facing other animals, it’s nearly always a showdown. This creature rarely loses.

It’s prey doesn’t stand a chance.

Oddly enough, the canine that closely resembles the German Shepherd, has often been described as “catlike.” Many describe instances where they witnessed a lightning-fast scramble up a tree during a chase and ultimately saw it capture a cat within seconds. There are thousands of them living among us, and you may never see them face-to-face.

Coyotes are everywhere. Their population has exploded.

While they fear nearly nothing, even the bravest among us has a nemesis.

“People see one and they can’t believe it. They think it’s weird, but it’s not, because these coyotes are all over the place. Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there,” said David Lueck, also known as “The Trapper Guy.”

He’s a coyote’s worst nightmare.

“You’ll see them the most at dawn and dusk. People have told me stories of how they snatch a dog off the leash before the owner even notices. Also, I get calls all the time about cats being killed. Keep an eye on your pets for sure,” he said. The animal expert of nearly 40 years tells us that coyotes are primarily nocturnal.

But, recent sightings all over the Tampa Bay area have been during the day, like Thursday morning in Brandon when five coyotes played a chicken with a cow.

It was 9 a.m. and realtor Jim McPeak was shocked. He described it as “Wild Kingdom” happening before his very eyes. They surrounded that cow. They could be heard howling, he told us.

Then, with a chuckle, he said, “Maybe they were picking a new leader.”

Considered pack animals, they are often seen alone. Surveillance images show then lurking around cars and sneaking through neighborhoods. They are traditionally afraid of humans. But, more and more expert say they are losing that fear because they are searching for food in urban areas.

Turns out, garbage cans feed their fearlessness. As they wander through neighborhoods, their curiosity takes over and their cuteness attracts attention. That initial boundary between animal and human is seemingly dissolving year after year.

Don’t think for a second that this clever creature that has the appearance of a German Shepherd isn’t wild and ready to strike at any moment.

It’s nimble, observant personality allows the coyote to act quickly when searching for prey.

Around the Tampa Bay area, with so many wooded surroundings and deep brush, coyotes have found places to nestle and build dens.

As they explore the area, they are enjoying the creature comfort’s, so to speak, of the human population boom as well, particularly in Brandon, where recent sightings have been numerous.

Even though the canine with the beautiful coat looks like it could be cuddly and calm, it is ultimately a wild animal living in large numbers among us.

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