MIAMI – A coyote that was rescued by firefighters after being found swimming in Biscayne Bay has been euthanized, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials confirmed.
A view from Sky 10 showed several members of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue trying to rescue the wild animal Tuesday morning off Watson Island.
“Once he started swimming, we knew we had to get in the water and get him out of there because he was one, either going to drown, or two, something, a boat may have run him over,” firefighter Javier Perez said.
Firefighters spent several minutes trying to snag the coyote along the seawall, but it swam away.
A view from Sky 10 shows firefighters trying to reach the coyote as it was wedged between a buoy and the seawall near PortMiami.
Perez believes the coyote was chasing some prey when it fell off the seawall around 7 a.m.
“It’s not uncommon to see coyotes out here on the Port of Miami,” he said.
Firefighters tried using a rope, but the coyote threw it off.
Once in the open water, the coyote then tried to bite their poles.
That’s when the crew of a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue boat caught the coyote using a lasso and pulled it onto the boat.
FWC Lt. Manny Pomares told Local 10 News reporter Madeleine Wright that the coyote would be taken to a rehab facility in Homestead.
“His injuries are just from him scratching on the seawall, probably just barnacles,” firefighter Robert Bencomo said.
FWC Officer Ronald Washington said the coyote would be euthanized because it is not a native species to Florida, so they cannot release it back to the wild. He said they would do it as humanely as possible to minimize suffering.
“Coyotes are native to North America. Once strictly a western species, coyotes now occur throughout the eastern United States,” the FWC states on its website. “Coyotes began expanding their range into northwestern Florida in the 1970s, and are now considered to be a naturalized species in all 67 Florida counties.”
FWC’s decision to euthanize the coyote has confused a lot of people after video of the rescue went viral on social media. One of those people is Dade Wildlife Rescue Director Lloyd Brown.
“The officer who was actually transporting the animal was en route here and he was told, ‘No, take it somewhere else,’ and I was never told where that place was,” Brown.
Brown said the FWC had called him earlier in the morning and asked if he could take the coyote, so he began moving his animals around to make space.
But Brown said the FWC then decided to euthanize it instead, telling him it’s a nuisance animal.
According to the FWC website, a nuisance animal is any animal that either “causes property damage, presents a threat to public safety or causes an annoyance within, under or upon a building.”
But their site also states that those animals can be released unless they’re non-native.
“By law in the state of Florida we cannot rehab an invasive exotic. If it’s not native in the state of Florida, we cannot put it back in the wild,” Brown said.
Local 10 News has attempted to contact the FWC for clarification about why the coyote was euthanized. This story will be updated when we hear back.