TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A very sick coyote has been spotted in the Citrus Park area, state wildlife officials confirm.
Blake Evans posted a photo of the animal on Twitter Monday. Since then, it’s been retweeted more than 21,000 times with more than 217 likes.
The image shows a sickly-looking animal with hairless patches and open wounds. Evans told News Channel 8 that he spotted the animal on West Waters Avenue.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said it’s a coyote with an advanced case of mange.
According to the FWC, mange is caused by mites that burrow under the skin. Irritation from the mites causes the coyote to scratch, which then leads to hair loss. Then they can get other infections because of those open sores. Animals with severe cases of mange may succumb to secondary infections caused by open sores on their bodies from scratching at the mites.
Coyotes are not unusual to the state of Florida as they have been documented in all 67 Florida counties, according to the FWC. Coyotes will prey on smaller animals so the FWC recommends:
- You walk your dog on a leash and keep your cat indoors
- You should use caution when walking pets in wooded areas or near heavy foliage
- If your pets are fenced in, make sure the fence is about 6-feet high so a coyote can’t jump over
ZooTampa says with coyotes as part of our environment, we have to be responsible in the way we manage our pets and minimize the foods that are left outside so we don’t attract them.
“Pet owners should always be responsible for pets whether that’s bringing in cats in, bringing dogs in at night, not letting them run free that’s why you have the biggest problems,” ZooTampa’s General Curator Jason Green said. “Also feeding animals outside, so you start to invite many of these whether it’s raccoons, possums or coyotes and sometimes there can be diseases across those and we don’t want that so be responsible with our trash and making sure there’s lids on it and not leaving it out too long.”
There is no need to report coyote sightings. However, the FWC would like to know about any animals that are behaving strangely or aggressively. You can reach the agency by calling 863-648-3200.