The City has been receiving reports of coyotes spotted in the canyons, hanging around near trails, and even walking down the middle of the street. Coyote sightings are not new in the City, as coyotes have been a part of the community since before its development. Coyotes are now found in every state except Hawaii. Coyotes mate once a year during January and February and will give birth to their pups from March through May. With that, the need for adults to feed their pups becomes important in the late spring and throughout the summer, thereby increasing their activity level during that time of the year. Typically, as fall approaches, coyote sightings will taper off as the pups become independent and the coyotes are not as active. It is interesting that it appears coyotes will stabilize their populations as they will only have as many pups as their territory can support in food and water. In addition, any voids in a pack will be filled by transient coyotes.
So now that we know coyotes are here, how are we going to learn to live with them? Coyotes will generally avoid humans and are natural predators of mice, rats, squirrels, gophers and other small animals. However the presence of a free meal in the form of pet food, compost, or trash can lure coyotes into yards. A coyote who finds food in one yard may learn to search for food in other yards. In addition, deliberately feeding coyotes is a mistake and against the law! Coyotes that are intentionally or unintentionally fed can become habituated, which can lead to bolder behavior when coyotes lose their fear of people. Coyotes may not make a distinction between their “natural” prey and the family cat or small dog. Without the lure of food, coyote visits will be brief and rare.
Here are a few suggestions you and your neighbors can follow to help avoid conflicts with coyotes and help keep them in their natural habitat areas:
- Don’t leave small pets or children outside unattended.
- Don’t leave pet foot outside overnight.
- Remove sources of water.
- Make sure your fences are six feet high with no gaps at ground level – coyotes are good diggers.
- Put bird feeders away at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
- Remove fallen fruit from the ground.
- If you compost, use enclosed bins and never compost meat or fish scraps.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
- Trim ground-level shrubbery to reduce hiding places.
- Talk to your neighbors to make sure they’re following the same procedures.
What do you do when you begin to notice a coyote making an appearance in or near your yard? Most agencies recommend something called “hazing”. Hazing is a method that makes use of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and deter them from neighborhood spaces. Using a variety of different hazing tools is important as coyotes can habituate to individual items, sounds and actions. The Humane Society explains the simplest method of hazing involves being loud and large; stand tall, wave your arms and yell at the coyote, approaching him if necessary, until he runs away. If a coyote has not been hazed before he may not immediately run away when you yell at him. If this happens, you may need to walk towards him and increase the intensity of your hazing. It is important to continue to haze the coyote until he completely leaves the area. You may need to use different tactics such as noise makers, stomping your feet or spraying the coyote with a hose to get him to leave. In addition, you may want to carry hazing tools with you while you walk your dog. These include a whistle, squirt guns, or sticks or rocks that can be thrown towards the coyote.
Recently Liz Brown Swanson from RPV Channel 33 City Talk had the opportunity to speak to the City’s Deputy Community Development Director, Greg Pfost, and Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist with the Human Society, on the topic of coyotes in the City. They discussed coyote sightings in the City, why coyotes are in the City, and what to do if you see a coyote. Please CLICK HERE to watch the interview.
For additional information on coyotes please refer to the following three brochures from the Humane Society
You can also find information about coyotes at the Humane Society website at www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes, or at the California Department of Fish and Game at www.keepmewild.org.
If you encounter a sick, lethargic, injured, or dead coyote Los Angeles County Animal Control will respond to pick up the animal. They can be reached at 310-523-9566. If you have any questions or concerns, or if you feel there is a coyote in your neighborhood that is dangerous or has shown aggressive behavior, please call the City’s Code Enforcement Division at 310-544-5228. As a community we can work together to learn to live peacefully with coyotes.