Pat’s Wildways: Wild dogs on Amelia Island

By Pat Foster-Turley
January 6, 2022

Here on Amelia Island we have a few types of wild canids (i.e. dog relatives). We have coyotes. We have foxes. And occasionally we have feral dogs, like Molly. Coyotes are quite common here, and many people have reported seeing them, but only rarely during the day. Coyotes seem to inhabit much of Amelia Island, but they mostly stay hidden in the few remaining patches of natural habitat left to them here. Pet owners need to stay vigilant and keep their cats inside and their dogs supervised on leashes. Pets have been lost here, but what’s a coyote to do when other natural food sources become scarce? Thank heavens for the high reproductive rate of our marsh rabbits, which usually suffice as prey. Red foxes which are much smaller than coyotes also share our island with us, but are not often seen either.

Molly has been on the lam on Amelia Island for weeks now. Please keep an eye out for her and call or text Lynda Dahl at 904-753-3380 if you see her, but don’t attempt to catch her.(Submitted photo)

Another “wild dog” here right now is Molly, a mixed breed dog similar to a smallish St. Bernard, but more skittish than even the shyest coyote or fox. Molly has been on the run now for weeks and it’s a long story. Molly was one of a group of similar dogs adopted from a shelter in Callahan to various owners in Nassau County. Molly came to Fernandina Beach, but sadly escaped from this adopter and showed up at Rayonier, where the staff fed her but she was so wary, aloof and skittish that no one could get close to her. It took nearly eight weeks before she could be captured. After a brief pass through the humane Society six months ago she was adopted by another island family to join the two dogs already in the household. But five weeks ago she escaped from their backyard and has been on the run ever since. And now one of her owners, Paul Lore, is on the Foar From Home team rowing across the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness for veterans’ suicide and he can’t be here to help look for her.

Mac McIntyre is using his wild dog capture skills honed on a mountain top in Indonesia to try to catch Molly. (Pat F-T photo)

But there is no lack of other people trying, that’s for sure. And lucky for this effort, we have a wild dog expert living among us: Mac McIntyre. As a former zookeeper and Fernandina Beach high school teacher with a continuing dedication to fieldwork, Mac has spent years dedicated to the study of New Guinea highland dogs. Mac has developed, found funding for and led teams twice to a field site in high altitude Western New Guinea, Indonesia where these mysterious dogs were photographed with trail cameras, two were captured and radio-colored and tufts of hair were taken for DNA analysis. And Mac is now using his equipment and skills to help catch Molly.

Despite intensive searching, signs posted, familiar clothes and food placed outside and other dedicated efforts, there was no trace of Molly for two weeks, until she was sighted in Pirate’s Bay development, not far from her origin. Mac and his team set up food stations and trail cameras and unset capture traps
at three locations and recorded six days of her visits while getting her acclimated to the traps. Finally, the videos indicated that she was ready to fully enter the trap and they set it to close her in. But they caught a different neighborhood dog! And Molly has not been seen in the three weeks since.

Where is she? What is she eating? Has she been able to hold her own against packs of coyotes? There are so many unanswered questions and everyone can help. A community of people are still working to find Molly and no one has given up. Keep your eyes open and is you see Molly please call or text Lynda


Dahl at 904-753-3380. But don’t try to catch Molly. Mac will go to work with trail cameras and traps any place where she has been seen, hopefully catching her this time. As Mac says, “Molly is a survivor. She is shy and skittish. She will not respond to being approached or called–will only flee. Please do not attempt to chase her.”

Who knew that Mac’s professional experience catching wild dogs on a mountaintop in Indonesia would come into play here? It takes a village.

Pat Foster-Turley, PhD is a zoologist on Amelia Island. She welcomes your nature questions and
observations. [email protected]

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Tammy Brandl
Tammy Brandl (@guest_63518)
2 years ago

I live in Forest Ridge Village @ First Avenue & Forest Ridge Drive. We have been on alert for Molly. We back up to Egan’s Creek, with a large wooded area before getting to the swampy area. We have heard a dog in the back of our community behind our rear dumpster in the wooded area. The dog or what we assume is a dog, runs off as soon as it hears us walking in that area. Might not be a bad place to check out for Molly. As we are very close to the area where Molly’s home was. We have looked for Molly & my heart breaks for Molly & her owners. ❤️‍ We will continue to keep an eye out for sweet Molly. There are posters throughout Forest Ridge & on First Avenue. Someone did a wonderful job of making great posters of Molly. Some are quite large & on sticks so they are very visible. Hopefully, those will help to bring Miss Molly home soon.

Please feel free to message me with any questions.
Tammy Brandl

Last edited 2 years ago by Tammy Brandl
Candis Whitney
Candis Whitney(@candiswhitneygmail-com)
2 years ago

Immense gratitude to all the folks helping to find Molly. You all are awesome!

Tammi Kosack
Tammi Kosack(@tammi-kosack)
2 years ago

It is important to note that Molly is not aggressive toward people or other dogs. She is just very, very leery of humans when she is on the run. After her last capture at Rayonier, she did not display any aggression or hyper activity while in the trap/cage, during car transport or when we gave her a bath.

When she was introduced to her new canine brothers, she assimilated quickly into the family of people and dogs and became quite loving.

As stated, please do not attempt to call for her or “catch” her as she will use her survivalist instincts and relocate. Call the phone number listed so her location map can be updated and cameras etc set up.

There are active threads on Nextdoor for mappings, sightings, discussion (you must join to comment/participate), and also on the local Facebook pages. Let’s bring her home before Paul and the Foar get back!!

PaulLore (@guest_64150)
2 years ago

Thanks to everyone for all their help!!!❤️ Such an amazing community!!!!