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Report reveals why FWC officer fatally shot coyote rescued near PortMiami

‘Significant miscommunication’ led to FWC officers’ decision to kill rescued coyote

MIAMI – The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a report on Friday after an investigation into why FWC officers decided to shoot and kill a coyote after Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel rescued the canine in Biscayne Bay near PortMiami.

The decision prompted animal activists’ outrage. Investigators found that although FWC officers did not break any laws when they euthanized the coyote, a “significant miscommunication” led to the decision to kill the canine after the Feb. 4 rescue.

The coyote’s paws were bleeding, as the canine struggled to hold on to the PortMiami seawall. Wildlife Rescue of Dade County staff in Homestead offered to rehabilitate the coyote, but the FWC never gave them a chance.

The 11-page report showed there was confusion among FWC personnel regarding the classification of coyotes in Florida, and whether the canines are native or non-native species. There was also confusion about euthanasia policies and offices “are not properly trained,” investigators found, according to the report.

Here is what the report found:

- FWC lacks a comprehensive definition for the coyote.

- It is recommended that FWC management clarify whether the coyote is a native or nonnative species and conduct training to ensure FWC personnel understand the importance of the various classifications of Florida wildlife.

- HSC external messaging is not consistent with the training and equipment provided.

- DLE lacks wildlife euthanasia and human-wildlife conflict policies.

- DLE personnel are not adequately trained in implementing the Wildlife Incident Response Plan.

- The FWC RCC Non-Emergency and Non-Law Enforcement Incident (NELE) Guidebook is outdated.

- FWC internal communication is inconsistent.

THE REPORT

FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton also released a statement to Local 10 News, which read:

“Our Inspector General has completed the review of the incident at the Port of Miami that led to the decision to euthanize a coyote on February 4, 2020. The findings clearly show that although no laws were broken, there was significant miscommunication that led to the decision. The entire situation was one we had not experienced before, and our Inspector General’s report has provided recommendations to improve communication, clarify and update policies, and institute appropriate training. Once implemented, these recommendations will allow us to be better informed and equipped for similar, future situations.”


About the Author:

Jeff Weinsier joined Local 10 News in September 1994. He is currently an investigative reporter for Local 10. He is also responsible for the very popular Dirty Dining segments.