SNELL ISLE (FOX13) - Steve Ritch lives in a picture-perfect oasis on Snell Isle, but there are dangerous coyotes lurking in this Pinellas County paradise.
"I'm looking in the shadows and looking behind the bushes," he said. "I can't walk my dog or go in the neighborhood without neighbors stopping me and telling me their most recent coyote story," he said.
Some of those stories include gruesome details of lost family pets, and he worries about his dog and cat.
"I have heard them (coyotes) while walking the dog at night and they've been fairly close," he said.
"I can tell you coyote sightings throughout Pinellas County are common," said FWC spokesperson Gary Morse. "Coyotes are common throughout the United States, particularly in urban areas where populations tend to be 3 to 5 times higher than rural areas because there's more food there," Morse noted.
Morse says pet owners need to keep cats inside and small dogs on a tight leash. Also never leave food or garbage outside.
Typically, coyotes will leave people alone, but neighbors are still on guard.
"I started carrying a cane so that I have something. I could yell, I could hit it with it if I needed to," Ritch said.
A meeting with the Snell Isle Property Owners Association to discuss the coyote issue will be held on November 10th at 7:30 p.m. at St. Petersburg Women's Club. FWC will be in attendance.
If you need to report a coyote sighting in Pinellas County, click here.