We love living in or near the hills. The views are spectacular and after all the winter rain, the hills are lush, green, and brimming with wildflowers. But that’s not all the hills are brimming with. Our hills are home to coyotes that venture into our neighborhoods. Many become urban coyotes, so we need to be coyote savvy.
Coyotes are wild animals and cannot be tamed. Don’t even try. They may look skinny, but do not feed them. They find enough to eat, including rodents, rabbits, and all too often, stray cats and small dogs. Setting out food for coyotes invites them to get used to human food and hanging around your neighborhood, putting your pets and your neighbors’ pets in great danger. In several SoCal cities, it’s illegal to feed wild animals. Even if it’s not against your city’s laws, it’s against common sense law.
If you feed your dog outside, pick up his bowl as soon as he’s done, and never set out nuts or other food for squirrels or chipmunks. It’s an invitation for a coyote or two to feast on your porch or patio – and that feast could include one of your pets.
Also check for other possible coyote food sources in and around your property. Always make sure your trashcan lids are tightly closed – coyotes love garbage! They also love compost piles. To keep coyotes out of the compost, keep it securely covered.
While we love our bird feeders and birdbaths, they attract coyotes along with feathered friends. Bird feeders also attract those squirrels and chipmunks that coyotes like to eat, and a birdbath makes a grand coyote watering hole. Bring bird feeders in at night and maybe consider a new use for the birdbath – how about turning it into a planter?
Many cities now have coyote management plans. Some, like Anaheim, have a core group of residents similar to a neighborhood watch who alert neighbors of coyote sightings, according to Erin Ryan, Anaheim’s spokesperson.
Captain Jerry Rodriguez of Corona’s Police Department manages Corona’s Animal Services and Enforcement Unit. “Coyotes are native not only to the City of Corona but surrounding cities,” said Captain Rodriguez. “Residents are educated via landline not to leave pet food out overnight or small pets unattended in the backyard.”
Coyotes can scale a six-foot fence, but not if your fence is topped by a coyote roller. The aluminum roller fits with brackets atop most fences, including wood, vinyl, block wall, wrought iron, and chain link. When a coyote attempts to jump the fence, the roller rolls him right off. It also keeps other stray animals out of your yard.
While rollers will keep coyotes out of the backyard, if you have fruit trees elsewhere on your property, you probably have coyote visitors, too. To keep them from camping under your fruit trees, pick all the fruit and any that falls to the ground. Rodents love fallen fruit and coyotes will eat the fruit and the rats.
If you live in Orange County and have loaded fruit trees, you can contact TheHarvestClub.org, part of the Orange County Food Access Coalition. Volunteers pick your fruit and deliver it to nearby organizations that distribute it to needy folks.
In other areas, check with churches for food programs that can use your excess produce and will also pick it. Riverside Food Rescue’s Gleaners for Good picks backyard fruit, but only in Riverside. Nearby cities may follow their lead.
Coyotes are part of our ecosystem and keep the rodent population under control. It’s against the law to shoot or poison them. Learn to be watchful and aware of them, and practice the accompanying Coyote Hazing Techniques. Coyote hazing scares coyotes and other wild animals and teaches them to fear humans. When walking with or without your dog, carry a stick or golf club and a can of rocks, water gun, or air horn, and put away your phone so you’ll be alert and safe in coyote country!
How to Haze Coyotes
1. When encountering a coyote, first pick up small children and pets.
2. Make loud noises, scream, yell, or use an air horn.
3. Stand up straight and wave your arms up and down, and continue yelling.
4. Throw rocks and sticks at the coyote.
5. Take steps toward the coyote. Be aggressive.
6. Always look directly at the coyote. Never turn your back to it or run away.
7. Never haze a coyote that’s cornered, with pups, or is injured or sick. Maintain eye contact and slowly back away.
Terri Daxon is a freelance writer