Coyotes are a nuisance to pet and livestock owners, as well as vegetable farmers.

Coyotes are a nuisance to pet and livestock owners, as well as vegetable farmers.

They're true scavengers and will eat just about anything — sheep, calves, poultry, deer, watermelons, snakes, foxes, cats, rabbits, grass, carrion, garbage, pet food…

They're mainly active at night but can be seen during daylight hours close to sunrise and sunset.

The canine species is brownish gray with a light gray or cream-colored belly. These animals have erect pointed ears with a slender muzzle and bushy tail and weigh between 20 and 45 pounds.

Coyotes can live just about anywhere but frequently are found in deserts, swamps, tundra, grasslands, brush, forests and even in the suburbs. 

They become bolder when living in urban areas, and beware: dogs and pet cats are easy prey.

These are just some of the reasons to safeguard your home and prevent interaction with these wild animals.

Coyote Safety 101

Here's what you can do to reduce the chance of having a coyote conflict:

•Don't feed coyotes

•Eliminate water sources near your home

•Place bird feeders out of reach

•Secure garbage containers

•Feed pets indoors when possible and store pet food where coyotes cannot access it

•Trim shrubbery near ground level to reduce hiding cover

•Surround your yard with a fence at least 6 feet high and 6 inches buried

•Don’t leave small children unattended outside if coyotes have been seen in the area

•Don’t allow pets to roam free, especially at night.

•Discourage coyotes from hanging around by chasing them away — shouting, loud noises or throwing rocks at them normally works. Coyotes generally will not challenge an adult human.

Jennifer Bearden is an agent at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension office in Crestview.