ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. – Reports of coyote sightings in Atlantic Beach have prompted cat owners to keep a close watch on their pets.
Coyotes have been spotted in Atlantic Beach in the past, but communities south are now impacted by migrating coyotes.
The owners of a cat named Cara said the cat was killed by a coyote on their porch along Beach Avenue on Oct. 1. Since then, the owners have started to keep an extra close watch on their other two cats and have set up a memorial for Cara, which also serves as a warning to other neighbors.
"She (the cat) had been really ripped apart bad," said neighbor Bill Robichaud, who has lived in Atlantic Beach for nearly 40 years. "I'm concerned about the other two cats that come here."
Jean Shepard, who has lived in Atlantic Beach her entire life, told News4Jax on Thursday that she's worried about her own cat's safety.
"In fact, most people keep their cat in now at night," Shepard said.
Signs posted on Beach Avenue encourage community members to call the city to voice their concerns.
In addition to those signs, Atlantic Beach residents have seen more missing cat posters as coyote sightings increase.
The city of Atlantic Beach said it has received reports of sightings throughout the community and it’s working with the police department to determine what steps to take, if any, beyond public education.
"I’d like to see the city do something that’s proactive," Robichaud said.
Atlantic Beach has hosted educational workshops to help with concerned residents. According to experts, the best approach to deal with coyotes is coexisting, but the city said it could consider finding a licensed trapper.
"What’s concerning is what’s going to happen then when a young child is out playing in the yard in the evening and gets attacked?" Robichaud said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, coyote attacks are rare and a coyote will only bite if it feels threatened. If a coyote is trapped, it must be euthanized.
The FWC says coyotes are not a threat to humans but they should not be fed.
Anyone who sees one should call FWC’s Wildlife Alert at 888-404-3922
Atlantic Beach residents with concerns about coyotes are asked to call Assistant City Manager Kevin Hogan at 904-247-5808.
There have also been coyote sightings in nearby Neptune Beach and in Jacksonville. Two coyotes were caught on security footage Tuesday killing a cat owned by Jacksonville country radio personality Robbie Rose in his Neptune Beach neighborhood.
Video sent to News4Jax by Kevin Colletti shows his cat, named Louie, being chased by a coyote in the St. Nicholas neighborhood of Jacksonville. Louie survived, but it was a close call.
Worried pet owners have contacted News4Jax, asking whether they can shoot a coyote if they feel it's threatening their pet. The law states shooting a gun in a residential area is prohibited unless defending life or property.