According to the coyotes, we’re the newcomers.
Long Beach has seen an increase in coyote sightings, from 397 reported encounters in 2014 to 442 this year, so far. An increase in neighborhood encounters and pet attacks, including the case of a dog named Peanut who was attacked in a local backyard, has residents concerned. In response Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) is currently drafting a new coyote management plan.
While city dwellers may not welcome these scruffy creatures, residents can take simple steps to cut down on wildlife-human encounters. Rebecca Dmytryk of Wildfire Emergency Services, a local nonprofit, led a presentation last month at El Dorado Park on living with urban coyotes. Here are her top five tips:
- Coyotes do not see humans as prey, but instead indicators of where food might be. Coyotes’ diet consists mostly of rodents, which is a good thing because it keeps the rodent population down. They will also catch birds, snakes, lizards, and scavenge through trash. While they may see your kitty as a delicious meal, people are in no danger of being eaten by a coyote. The only times coyotes have attacked humans was when a person attempted fed one.
- If a coyote comes near you, make yourself seem large and make noise until it goes away. If a coyote is within 40 feet, or eight car lengths, stand your ground and make loud noises until it turns away, a process called hazing. According to the LBACS, the goal of hazing is to give residents a tool to shape coyote behavior to avoid human contact. Hazing should never injure an animal, as this can make it act unpredictably, but instead teach it to fear people. Besides yelling and waving your arms, Dmytryk also recommended using an air horn, waving a scare stick, shaking a can filled with coins, or even using a water gun (although Ted Stevens of Animal Care Services recommends using one that looks like a toy gun so as to not scare other people). Keep standing your ground until the animal leaves; otherwise it will just learn to stick around until the human gives up. Hazing needs to be done on foot, not while in a car or from a window.
- Keep your pet safe. Never leave water dishes or pet food outside day or night, as coyotes consider it a treat. When walking a dog use a leash six feet or less in length. At home, make sure pets are enclosed from coyotes. However, this doesn’t mean you have to leave your pet inside all day, animal enclosures will keep your pet safe from any wildlife visitors.
- Make your yard and neighborhood inhospitable to coyotes. Garbage and recycle bins must be tightly secured. Coyotes are scavengers and will eat whatever is around, whether it’s fruit, seeds, or berries, so keep this in mind when maintaining your yard. Bird feeders can also attract rodents, which in turn can attract predators like coyotes. Pick up any brush or debris that coyotes can use as shelter. Moving outdoor furniture around will also help. Coyotes are neo-phobic and don’t like disturbances to their routine, so moving your stuff around here or there outside might stop their visits.
- Killing the coyote won’t solve the problem. If you kill a coyote this will only make room for other predators to move in. Instead, follow the above four tips to reduce coyote-human interactions and remember this is their home too. If you wish to trap a coyote, the trap must be registered with the state of California and cannot be within 150 yards of a habitable dwelling without the written consent of the household. However, relocation of an animal is unlikely to eliminate the issue.
Coexisting with urban wildlife is not a passive process. Learn more or report a coyote sighting at the LBACS website.