Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Living With Coyotes

This coyote is quite comfortable in our urban neighborhoods. Hazing is a good way to keep them at a distance by reinforcing their natural wariness of humans.

Lately, neighbors have reported seeing more coyotes than ever. That’s because it’s pupping season and adult coyotes are hunting for food to feed their newly born pups. Many residents have reported more aggressive behavior than usual. We had an encounter a few weeks ago and have since learned of several dens in the neighborhood.

“Seeing a coyote out during the day is not a cause for alarm, especially in the spring and summer when they’re out looking for food for their pups,” says Lynsey White, Humane Society director of humane wildlife conflict resolution.

According to experts, coyotes are generally reclusive animals who avoid human contact. But, coyotes who have adapted to our urban and suburban environments, may realize there are few real threats and approach people or feel safe visiting yards even when people are present, according to the Humane Society.

Coyotes who have become habituated, or have lost their fear of humans, are comfortable in our neighborhoods because of the ready availability of food.

However, experts recommend that bold coyotes should not be tolerated or enticed.

“Instead, they should be given the message that they should not be so brazen,” according to the Humane Society who has published guidelines on how to safely haze the animals.

To coexist safely, it’s important to modify this behavior and attitude in resident coyote
populations. The best solution for addressing problematic coyote behavior is by instituting a community-based hazing program. Hazing is an activity or series of activities that
attempts to change behaviors of habituated coyotes and/or to re-instill a healthy fear of people in the local coyote population. Hazing techniques include generating loud noises, spraying water, shining bright lights, throwing objects, shouting, etc. Hazing can help
maintain coyotes’ fear of humans and deter them from neighborhood spaces such as backyards, greenbelts and play spaces.

A hazing program encourages the use of harassing actions without employing weapons or causing bodily harm to the coyote. The more often an individual animal is hazed, the more effective hazing is in changing coyote behavior. Being highly intelligent animals, coyotes who are hazed quickly learn to avoid neighborhoods, people and pets.

“Gone are the days where coyotes are coming from the hills for a drink,” Niamh Quinn, a human-wildlife interactions advisor with the University of California’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources told Last.com in their recent story on how to live with coyotes. “I think that people need to know that coyotes are everywhere, like literally everywhere. Just because you don’t see coyotes doesn’t mean that they’re not in your neighborhood.”

Coyotes are native to the state and broader North America. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are between 250,000 and 750,000 animals in the state. They enjoy plentiful resources such as water, rodents, rabbits, and squirrels in our urban areas as well as unsecured human-associated foods, such as garbage, pet food, bird
feeders, gardens, and compost piles which is why experts advise residents to remove any food and trash and never feed them.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations prohibit the relocation of coyotes without written permission from the Department, according to LA County Animal Services. It’s also futile.

If one coyote is removed, usually others move in to take their place. According to wildlife experts, when you reduce the number of coyotes in an area, females will increase their litter size. Where they might have had five babies last breeding season, the next season they’ll double and so they quickly fill that void. Additionally, studies show coyote relocation is not effective and a relocated coyote can travel hundreds of miles back to their home range. Coyotes are also one of the most difficult animals to trap. State law prohibits licensed trappers from relocating a coyote instead state law requires the animals to be killed.

Private property owners can legally kill a coyote that has damaged their property but they must abide by all state and local laws and some cities may have laws limited in the use of a firearm.

Coyotes have become more successful in our urban environment than in the wild so it’s best to find ways to peacefully and safely co-exist. And, there are plenty of sources of sound information. Several years ago we reported on a very informative webinar conducted by LA Animal Services Wildlife Specialists and featured a video offering information on animal behavior and lots of things we can do to make our yards less friendly to coyotes and safer for our pets. Simple steps like removing or thinning dense or overgrown hedges that could make a nice den for pups and securing trash can make a difference. Experts say that most interactions with coyotes in urban areas result from the presence of a dog or from food left out intentionally or by accident.

Dana Stangel, an urban wildlife specialist and Executive Director at Teranga Ranch, which provides local wildlife education, offered advice on safe and humane ways to deter coyotes and teach them to avoid humans and our pets. She also offered tips on how to make your backyard coyote-proof by adding rollers to your fence to keep them from jumping over….or using motion sensor sprinklers or lights or noise makes that will scare them away.  She also recommended using noise makers, bike horns, bells, penny cans, small airhorns, and even umbrellas to startle the animals and teach them that humans and their pets are scary. To keep pets safe, dogs should always be walked on leashes, and avoid retractable leashes.

Hazing works best if conducted in a variety of ways with different people so it’s good for neighbors to work together to support each other efforts, according to the field guide to hazing from Projectcoyote.org, a nonprofit national coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers, and citizen leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife.

Usually coyotes hunt during the early morning and evening hours but coyote sightings are very common during the day.

On the positive side, coyotes can also be good neighbors because they help control the rodent population.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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