Traps set to catch coyotes after dogs in West Boca attacked

Article Courtesy of The Sun Sentinel

By Adam Sacasa

Published June 10, 2015


A coyote trapper has been sent out to a West Boca community after two dogs were attacked.

It's now Paul Zambrano's job to rid a neighborhood of one or more coyotes that have attacked dogs..

The animal trapper pulls up in his truck and gets down to business Wednesday afternoon, scouting the neighborhood for evidence of coyote scavenging. The cages are placed strategically in places where he thinks a coyote might go. He tosses pieces of frozen chicken in, then camouflages the cages with foliage. He wants them to be enticing.

Coyotes "usually go for live prey," said Zambrano, 39, of Jupiter. "But being that they're so brazen, I think we'll have a good chance of getting them with regular frozen chicken and things like that."

Zambrano, owner of Bandit Wildlife Management, has become some residents' best hope of eliminating the animal from the Timberwalk community, situated near Judge Winikoff Road and west of Ponderosa Drive, as well as the nearby Boca Winds community.

He placed one of two traps near the home where a dog was attacked by a coyote Tuesday, in the 22500 block of Vistawood Way. That dog survived.

But in a coyote attack that happened Saturday, a dog vanished from the 22000 block of Clocktower Way in the Boca Winds community. The dog is presumed dead by its owners.

Bob Bernhardt, president of the Timberwalk Homeowners Association, said he has heard about coyote sightings for about two months but residents didn't sound worried until the attacks.

"It's becoming a real concern that we have to address," said Bernhardt, who met with the trapper Wednesday. "We have to resolve this."

Zambrano said he'll give it his best try, but acknowledged coyotes can be difficult to catch. "They are very smart," he said.

Coyotes typically stay away from humans, and it concerns Zambrano how bold the coyotes in the area have become. He said female coyotes have a home range of about eight miles but males can cover at least 40 square miles.

He'll be working with the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to figure out what will happen with the coyotes. Due to how aggressive the animals have been, he said they'll likely be humanely euthanized.

The traps will be checked daily and moved around if necessary. His services will cost several hundred dollars, he estimated.

He doesn't get many calls to trap coyotes, but when he was hired to trap a coyote several years in a Jupiter neighborhood, it only took one night, he said. "I found some prints, set up in an area and the next night I had him in the cage," Zambrano said.

For that trap, he used smoked turkey neck, which lasts longer than raw chicken, he said. He also has used wet cat food in the past.

The quick catch in Jupiter is why, he said, the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary recommended him for the job in West Boca.

Zambrano believes the coyotes roaming the Timberwalk neighborhood may have a limited food supply because they're going after small dogs. "They're opportunistic animals and they realize small dogs are something they can take without much of a struggle," he said.

It'll be hard to tell how many coyotes might be in the area unless surveillance cameras are set up, Zambrano said. Even then, the same animal might be walking by multiple times.

If Zambrano's traps are a success, it'll be great news for Timberwalk resident Chris Lowenthal.

He sprinted out of his home wearing only boxers and socks about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, when his wife woke him up to tell him a coyote had ripped a neighbor's dog off its leash.

The coyote resembled "a small German Shepherd," Lowenthal said. "It seemed very big and aggressive, maybe 60 pounds."

Lowenthal ran out of his home and chased the coyote across a road and through some bushes. During the pursuit, the coyote dropped the dog, grabbed it again, then dropped it a second time. Lowenthal said he moved in and grabbed the pet, then returned it to its owner.

The owner had assumed her dog was dead, but Lowenthal showed up with the dog in his arms. "I was very lucky to catch him," Lowenthal said.

Based on the coyote's size and color, he said he believes it may have been the same coyote that tried to attack his Pomeranian two weeks ago as he walked down Judge Winikoff Road.