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How to Coexist With Coyotes

With coyotes roaming neighborhoods in the hills and the Valley, residents should take steps to keep the predators at a distance from pets and living areas.

Coyote sightings are on the rise in our neighborhoods at this time of year:  The long daylight hours make the animals more visible, and there is more activity with new cubs needing to be fed. While coyotes can present a threat to small pets that roam outside, pet owners can decrease the risk by following the advice of various city and nonprofit organizations.

Tips and Tools for Keeping Coyotes Wild

Project Coyote, a California-based organization that promotes peaceful coexistence with coyotes, and the Humane Society of the United States offer this advice on how to discourage coyotes from coming into urban areas:

1. Do not feed coyotes.

2. Keep your pet on a leash.

3. Supervise small pets and children, and keep your cats indoors.

4. If you have dogs that spend time in your fenced yard, you may want to invest in a Coyote Roller, a device that attaches to the top of a fence to stop coyote paws from getting a grip. Also, adding 6 inches of wire mesh to the bottom of your fence should deter coyotes from digging underneath.

5. Keep garbage, compost and pet food out of reach. Make sure your garbage can lids are on tight, and feed your cats and dogs indoors.

6. If faced with a coyote, act big and loud—shake a can of pennies, blow a whistle, wave your arms above your head. Such actions will reinforce their fear of humans, which is good for us and them.

7. Ask your neighbors to follow the above tips, too.

For more from Project Coyote's newsletter and fact sheet, click here.

A Coyote's Eye View

As human populations have grown and wild lands have been converted to human use, there has been increased pressure on wildlife to adapt or die.

Gina Farr, communications director of Project Coyote, said the coyote is one of the few species that have adapted. And that, she said, has not necessarily been a bad thing.

“Their primary food source is rodents, so they’re beneficial for our urban systems,” Farr said.

Coyotes help keep skunk, possum and raccoon populations under control, which, in turn, helps songbirds thrive. The problems arise when they are encouraged to venture into people's yards and gardens.

“We get into trouble in urban environments when we have attractants that really shouldn’t be in our yards,” Farr said. “In Los Angeles, we have a lot of canyon country, a lot of open space. There are people in that area, and it’s also open to animals that can adapt. Take personal responsibility for your part of that corridor.”

The knee-jerk reaction—seeking to have them killed—isn't the best solution, Farr said.

“[Coyotes] have something called compensatory reproduction,” Farr said. “Normally, it’s only the alpha male and female in any family group that would reproduce, once a year." But with coyotes, she said, "Kill the alphas, and the betas will simply take over.”

Similarly, taking coyotes from urban environments and resettling them elsewhere is not an option, according to Farr.

“It’s illegal in most states,” she said, “and the animal that’s been relocated in someone else’s territory doesn’t know where to find food or water. It will try and find its way back, but with all the pressures it experiences, it will probably die within two weeks.”

Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist at the Humane Society of the United States, said she was reluctant to believe reports that increased rainfall in Southern California this spring had led to more coyotes than in previous years entering residential areas in search of food, or that the rain had led to a lengthening of the mating season.  

“It's more likely that coyotes in urban landscapes have no predators, so they increase more quickly,” White Dasher said. “They come into our neighborhoods to eat, and it’s easier for them to eat pet food. We’ve created this free buffet for them.”

How City Organizations Can Help

Residents often call Los Angeles Animal Services when they spot a coyote in their neighborhood and are concerned about its behavior. Capt. Wendell Bowers, the city agency's wildlife program coordinator, recommends that residents have relevant information on hand when they call in. ( for the checklist.)

"We're big on education and on keeping the fear of man in the coyotes," Bowers said. "We want them to run when we come out the door. Run them off every chance you get. They should be afraid of us."

Andrew Hughan, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Game, said that for a warden to be sent out to investigate and assess any potential danger from a coyote, there needs to be "a credible sighting" and evidence "that a person has been impacted," he said. "If necessary, and under extreme and special circumstances, we can find and kill [the coyote], or hire a trapping service," Hughan said.

Although injuries to humans from coyotes are rare—there's been only one confirmed human death by a coyote in the United States in the last several years—small animals and pets are a different matter, Hughan said.

"Keep a close eye on your dogs," he warned. "A chihuahua is a small meal for a coyote.”

Local Sightings

Irene DeBlasio was one of numerous Studio City residents who recently reported to Patch her experience with coyotes. DeBlasio said she is visited regularly by a coyote in her neighborhood.

“I've named our neighborhood coyote Skippy," DeBlasio said. "I went down my driveway to pick up my newspapers ... and sure enough there he was—standing in the middle of the street watching me in my nightgown. I said, ‘Morning, Skippy.’ He just stood there and watched as I slowly walked back up my driveway, shaking all the way. Another close encounter."

Victoria Miller, an Encino resident who lost her cat Kobe to a coyote, offered up what she called "a cautionary tale" and urged others to keep their pets safe. Miller and her husband, who own several cats, had kept them all secure for years. On June 10, 3-year-old Kobe fell prey to a coyote that must have navigated their 6-foot-high fence to get into the yard, Miller said.

"Kobe was in the backyard, which is completely fenced in, although coyotes will definitely scale a wall,” Miller said. “In the wee small hours [Kobe] went outside. ... He was found on the next-door neighbor's front yard. That neighbor didn't know [we were missing a cat] and called Animal Services."

Miller said that the sanitation department then came and removed the cat's remains. By the time her husband tracked down what had happened to Kobe, its body had been cremated. Miller's neighbor said that the sanitation worker who picked up Kobe's remains said the wounds indicated that a coyote had been the culprit.

Barbara July 01, 2011 at 01:49 PM
About 4 weeks ago, my neighbor, who can see my front door from their kitchen, told me that about 5 am to large coyotes were at my front door, it was also garbage day, so I am assuming they were out and about scavenging the bins... I have also seen them on my hill below my house... I always go out with my pet, to watch him do his business and try not to over flow my garbage bins, where as they can easily jump or thrown them down, this is especially previlent in the summer when water is not available.
vince dyer July 01, 2011 at 02:27 PM
just shoot them onsight
Susan Eskander July 01, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Thanks for the well-researched article, Anna. I think I was the only trail rider in Chatsworth who didn't know how Coyote Pass got its name .... it wasn't until a pack of coyotes cornered us with our Queensland Heeler, Ruby, that I figured it out. Thank goodness for my husband's old Stallion vestor, his skills in the show ring as a reining cowhorse came in handy - he was able to drive the little bastards off while Ruby and I made our escape. The coyotes caught up with us later and grabbed Ruby by the hind leg - I had dismounted to cross a culvert as I was four months pregnant and didn't balance well. Needless to say, hormones took over and I became a large raging human ready to kill anything that hurt my poor dog, who was now on her back and yelping in terror as the coyote was dragging her off. Lucky for us, the coyote let go and ran off. I lifted Ruby onto hubby's saddle where she got a really nice view on the ride home from the top of our old Stallion's back. Most recently, just a week ago, they came up the driveway at 9:00 in the morning and attacked our Borgi, Star. Fortunately, the shepherd who lives here got the last bite and all the dogs are okay now. As a sidenote, I found out recently that skunks eat rodents, too - and since learning that, they've become welcome at our barn for rodent control.
Glslade@aol.com July 16, 2011 at 11:05 PM
I like close to Riverside and Colfax and have found animal remains. I just learned that I have a Mama racoon and at least 4 babies and I thought it might have been the racoons who killed a cat and a possum, but a coyote makes much more sense...
Richard C. Adams July 21, 2011 at 07:47 AM
I beg to differ: coyotes DO respond to hunting pressure... if an area is dangerous to them, they learn quickly to avoid it, and it reminds them that humans are dangerous apex predators. I know from recent personal experience that the coyotes in Studio CIty are not only NOT afraid of man, they will size you up. I came home from an SCNC meeting early this spring, when there was still lots of food and water up the hill, and as I was getting out of my car, I saw a dog come around the corner and start down the street towards me. At first I didn't think about it, but when he got closer, It was obviously a coyote. What was unusual, based on previous experience with them, is that he not even bothered by my presence, and only my standing erect and yelling made him cross to the far side of the street, and then only long enough to get past me, when he cam back over. The disconcerting part was that after I watched him a few house down, I turned and found that another one had rounded the corner and was approaching me from behind, so I am personally underwhelmed by the whole "kumbya" tone of this article, If DFG and the rest are worried about losing the alphas, I suggest you start culling the youngsters to reduce the pressure on the packs to find food and water outside of the wild areas.
Gina Farr August 08, 2011 at 06:29 PM
Remove food and attractants around your house, talk to your neighbors about doing the same; keep dogs on leash in coyote areas and be aware of your surroundings so that you don't approach a coyote den, especially during pupping season (spring thru early summer). These are effective solutions; trying to sterilize the natural world around us is not. Even if we do what the good Mr. Adams suggests and "start culling the youngsters", there would be more food for surviving coyotes and numbers would increase. We've tried for two hundred years to "manage" coyotes, and it just doesn't work. Coyotes are here to stay. The good news is that coyotes have an excellent track record for being good neighbors, but it does take some amount of education and personal responsibility to create a good relationship. For example, keeping pets safe from a number of ecosystem dangers is similar to teaching your kids how to cross the street. We can't get rid of all the cars, but small changes in our behavior help us to live safely in a rich and complicated world.
Richard C. Adams August 09, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Gina, you sound like the sort of well meaning innocent who would take a casserole over to the biker gang who moved into the house across the street and then wonder why they attacked you. Learning to "live" with trouble just leads to more trouble.
Mattey's Mom September 14, 2011 at 03:49 PM
We moved to upper Stone Canyon in Sherman Oaks 6 years ago, understanding that we were in a wildlife area. Coyote (+ deer) sightings right on, + across, our Street that is hillside, are too numerous to count + #s vary from 1 to 3. After dark is most typical + 2 just last night @ 10 p.m. But daytime sightings have become more frequent. Our perspective is that we are in their land, not visa versa. We take the precautionary measures that others have noted + just shout them away.
vince dyer September 14, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Does that perspective mean that you have invaded the home of the cockroaches that live in your kitchen cabinets....and if you don't have cockroaches, just exactly how did you get rid of them?
Kristina Hope October 26, 2011 at 07:16 PM
As I said in a previous comment, if you "cull" them, nature will respond with larger litters in the future. Sterilization works much better. They could be shot with tranquilizer guns, sterilized and released. I realize that it would be an expense that would need funding, but better that than to have even more of them to compensate for the losses that humans created. In addition, even if you wanted to cull the youngsters, who's going to follow them around to find the dens where they live? It could be a very dangerous and time consuming assignment. We all have these ideas for what to do, but we have to think practically in terms of what is entailed in implementing them. We do have money issues that have to be considered in whatever we do.
Tracy November 08, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Sunday, November 6, 6:00 pm, I saw a large coyote on Vantage Ave then ran down Valley Spring Ln, then south on Bellingham Ave, one block north of Ventura Blvd. It was carrying in its mouth an animal, could have been an outdoor cat or bushy-tailed wild animal. I drove to get closer to see if I could help, but the coyote successfully vanished. Native americans called them 'tricksters' due to their swift nature. Coyotes are only trying to survive, they are not bad creatures. These animals prey on our domestic animals as well, so please always use a leash and cats indoors only and keep your loved animals safe!
Georgina June 20, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Bring back wolves. They keep coyotes reduced.
Georgina June 20, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Does anyone know how outdoor cats can be protected within a fence? What sort of fence is needed to be a 100% coyote safe, so that sad deaths like the one of Koby do not happen.
Laura June 20, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I have an enclosure for my cats, connected via a tunnel to a cat door in an exterior wall. It's 6x6, made of wood and wire. They don't get to roam free, but they do get fresh air and to live another day.
Georgina June 20, 2012 at 09:48 AM
Thanks Laura! This sounds pretty clever. I wonder how high coyotes can (cannot) climb, but it sounds as if it's best to cover the fenced area with a wire fence from the top as well. Does anyone know any coyote-free areas in Los Angeles? If you read online it seems they are everywhere. I wonder whether they come into the Venice Canals, have not read about incidents there. I am going to be looking to rent a place in LA or in the beach area for several months starting October and want to take my cats along. I've lived in Hollywood before and don't want to take that risk anymore.
Debbie Montgomery Celender July 08, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I live in Sun Valley, on Sunland Park Drive which is North East of the intersection of Sunland and La Tuna. In the Last 2 days we've had our TownHouse complex stalked by a large Pack of coyotes. I could count at least 5-6 different voices calling each other from with- in our fenced complex at night AND during the day too! Last night the neighbors small dogs unexpectedly got out of the front door and were immediately grabbed by this pack & 2 of 3 killed, with the owner right there!!!! I'm afraid to even let my Bichions out on our fenced patio our walk them on a leash ( dog on a string treats). Who do I contact to get these pests gone?
Mike Szymanski July 08, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Please read the article... it's all there, exactly who to contact... http://studiocity.patch.com/articles/coyote-alert-police-ask-for-help-in-spotting-coyotes
Patch Sucks July 08, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Mike you are such a freaking UV poacher. Don't you have something better to do with your time such as writing about UFOs, or something?
Amber April 20, 2013 at 04:15 PM
Coyote brazenly walking down noble to Ventura in Sherman oaks
Mike Szymanski April 20, 2013 at 04:25 PM
Thanks! Anyone with a coyote sighting add their comments to the COYOTE ALERT! under the News Tab above...http://studiocity.patch.com/topics/coyote-alert-2f09866c
Mike Szymanski April 20, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Thanks! Anyone with a coyote sighting add their comments to the COYOTE ALERT! under the News Tab above... http://studiocity.patch.com/topics/coyote-alert-2f09866c
Jock April 20, 2013 at 04:54 PM
i see my wild doggies every day. Us hill folk respect and enjoy them. They live here and have for appx 12,000 years (before, there were Dyer Wolves). Lost my cat 2 years ago to them. It broke my heart, I loved him. We Miss him. i am sorry for anyone who looses a loved one. But It was my fault, not the doggies. THEY are the REAL doggies. We have genetically modified them to become sweet little lap things unable to protect themselves. Keep the lap things in the house or backyard well fenced. Don't blame the wild doggies.They keep the rodent population in check (see Oklahoma dust bowl rabbit infestation). Please, if you want no natural wildness go live in NYC and cope with your fellow man.

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