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Learning to Coexist With Coyotes

Keeping small pets indoors and learning some techniques to scare coyotes away could prevent them from returning to residential neighborhoods.

Pouring cayenne pepper on trash and making loud noises were some of the tips wild animal experts shared with homeowners at the Monday on how to prevent coyotes from making unwelcome visits to their properties.

About 100 people attended the coyote education workshop, which was organized shortly after city officials that made coyote trapping illegal in Calabasas and recommended non-violent alternatives to co-existing with the carnivore.

The act of a coyote attacking a human is pretty rare, having been reported 48 times between 1998 and 2003, while dog-related attacks rank around 3,000 occurrences during that time frame, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.

One of the experts, Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service, said half of a coyote's diet in the Santa Monica Mountain area is made up of fruit, while the remainder is comprised of wild animals like rabbits and pocket gophers.

However, coyotes also prey on small domestic animals such as cats and small dogs, attracting them to residential areas, he said

Executive Director Cindy Reyes said keeping small pets indoors is crucial toward keeping coyotes away.

"Coyotes are always on the lookout for easy food, that is their motivation in life and if you can remember that coyotes are all about food, it makes it a little easier to demotivate them to come onto your property," she said.

Reyes said pets should also be kept on short leashes when out for a walk and owners should pick up their pets if a coyote is spotted.

She added that residents should not only never feed coyotes, but avoid leaving food for all wild animals because it could still attract the wild canine.

"If you're trying to feed one wild animal, you're basically going to feed all animals," she said.

Other tips offered by Reyes included spraying cayenne pepper and ammonia on trash, which could keep coyotes from returning.

Bird feeders are also "the root of all evil," she said.

Spilled seeds have been known to attract coyotes, so it's important to clean up them up and even consider placing the bird feeder on a higher pole so the wild canines cannot knock them down, Reyes said.

Another method of keeping coyotes off one's property is through a method dubbed hazing, which is designed to ward off coyotes that are used to make treks from the wild into residential neighborhoods.

Those kinds of coyotes have become habituated, meaning they are no longer scared of humans, said Camila Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote.

Hazing encompasses an array of non-violent techniques that reverse the effects of habituation, she said.

"The idea is to reinstate the fear coyotes have of people," Fox said.

Tactics to scare off coyotes include yelling at them, making loud banging noises, clapping, spraying them with a hose or even throwing rocks in their direction, though not at them, she said.

Fox also showed a video clip of a person who made an effective noise device by filling an empty soda can with 10 coins and shaking it each time he saw a coyote.

"Be big bad and loud," she said. "[Coyotes] are social pack animals. If they feel that you're the dominant force out there, they will respond accordingly," she said.

Another important step is to not stop hazing until a coyote has retreated, Fox said.

She said successful hazing makes a coyote uncomfortable around humans, making them less likely to return to someone's home.

Click here to read more information about coyotes and the city of Calabasas' coyote management plan.

The city also keeps track of coyote sightings for data purposes. Click here to fill out a coyote encounter observation report.

Check out the attached brochure authored by the city to learn about about coexisting with coyotes.

Randi Feilich March 01, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Thank you Arin for your excellent detailed coverage of the Calabasas Coyote Education Night. The city of Calabasas and the Calabasas City Council Members should also be commended for the approval and implementation of the Coyote Management Plan, and adoption of Resolution NO. 2011-1308, prohibiting the expenditure of city funds to trap coyotes. Randi Feilich Hirsch Southern California Representative Project Coyote
Reza Gostar March 02, 2012 at 11:05 PM
One day while driving on Mulholland Highway, I saw a coyote with a missing leg cross the road. It was very sad sight. Killing coyotes or maiming these animal isn't the answer.

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