Cohabitation and Coyotes: As sightings of coyotes become more common in urban areas residents need to be aware of how to protect their homes.

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Cohabitation and Coyotes: As sightings of coyotes become more common in urban areas residents need to be aware of how to protect their homes.

A map showing reported coyote sightings in Long Beach.

A map showing reported coyote sightings in Long Beach.

longbeach.gov

A map showing reported coyote sightings in Long Beach.

longbeach.gov

longbeach.gov

A map showing reported coyote sightings in Long Beach.

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In recent years, the subject of coyotes has been an ongoing discussion in Signal Hill and Long Beach. Sightings and reports of attacks on pets have caused residents to ask questions about how to handle coyotes who enter their local neighborhoods.

At the annual budget meeting for the City of Long Beach on July 31, City Manager Patrick West said that the city is taking steps to study the coyote problem.

“We have a task force for Long Beach Animal Care Center [and] they’re reviewing that,” West told the Signal Tribune. “In addition to that, our Parks, Recreation and Marine Department have hired people to do studies regarding coyotes and address that.”

Both Signal Hill and Long Beach have released information in the past on how to deal with sightings of rogue animals. In 2015 the City of Long Beach released a Coyote Management Plan, which provides information on coyotes and the best way to deal with them.

Relocation

One of the most common proposals on how to deal with the population of coyotes in the area is relocation. Many residents have proposed capturing and relocating them to an area where they can live freely away from humans.

Data shows that this idea may not be as beneficial to coyotes or their human neighbors.

According to the Long Beach management plan, removing coyotes requires permission from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW). Which only relocates coyotes as a last resort.

The main problem with relocation is that removing coyotes from their natural habitat is not “economically or ecologically efficient.”

According to the City’s management plan, “attempts made by local, state and federal agencies, as well as private organizations, over the past century to eradicate coyotes have proven to be ineffective, as coyotes have expanded their territories across the United States. As a last resort, lethal control measures, when employed, can be controversial and non-selective; therefore, if they are used, they must be humane and in compliance with federal and state laws.”

Another issue of relocation is that it can be harmful to coyotes who are moved, as many do not survive the transfer.

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As coyotes become more common in populated areas, residents should be more cautious with their pets.

Coyotes who do survive rarely stay in their new location and leave for new habitats where they may clash with local wildlife over territory or introduce diseases to the new area. In some cases, relocated coyotes will try to return to their original location.

An additional challenge with removing coyotes from their habitat is the creation of a territory that is open to new occupants. The main concern is “transients,” or coyotes who are not a part of a larger pack.

Transients may include young coyotes who break off from large packs or older males who get pushed out by younger competition. These transient coyotes will quickly move into any area that is open and has a source of food.

The same will occur even if coyotes are euthanized.

“At all times of the year, numbers of transient coyotes are immediately available to replenish any voids created by killing the resident coyotes,” the management plan stated.

Dealing with Coyotes

The City’s main solution for dealing with coyotes is education, and asking the public to take steps to reduce incentives for animals to roam their neighborhoods. This includes removing sources of food for coyotes and training them to avoid humans.

A major reason for the presence of coyotes is the abundance of food. California law prohibits the feeding of coyotes under California Code of Regulations Title 14. Section 251.1 Harassment of Animals.

Residents can lower chances of coyotes in their area by picking up fallen fruit in their yards, and securing trash in bins with tight-fitting containers.

Another suggestion is to freeze meat scraps or left-over food until collection day to avoid leaving tempting food out too long.

The City also warns residents to avoid feeding coyotes, whether intentionally or unintentionally. This includes feeding pets inside, or if the animal must eat outside, removing any leftover food as soon as possible.

Cats and smaller dogs should be monitored by their owners, especially during the hours between dusk and dawn. The report suggests the best way to keep cats safe is to keep them inside or in a secure enclosure outside.

Another step for locals is to train coyotes to avoid humans by hazing any animals who come too close to residential areas. The intent is to train coyotes to see humans as a threat, which will cause them to avoid people. Yelling, spraying water, throwing items or bright lights are methods stated in scaring coyotes away. The intent is not to harm coyotes in the area, but to scare them to teach them to avoid human areas.

Coyotes are more common at certain times and places. When a coyote is encountered in a large field at night, allow it to leave undisturbed unless it enters an inappropriate area, such as a yard.

If a coyote is found in a populated area, residents can protect their families, pets and properties. However, residents should be aware that they can only harm or kill a coyote if the animal is a physical threat.

“If someone in Long Beach goes outside into their backyard and they see a coyote attacking their dog or their child […] underneath code 4180, they are able to kill that coyote,” said Jennifer De Trez, a public relations officer for the Long Beach Police Department.

“Now on the flip side, if I go out into my backyard and I see a coyote maybe over my fence or if I’m walking my dog in the park and I happen to see a coyote, I can’t just kill it. If I do that and someone sees me they can report me to the police. We will come, and that person will be prosecuted.”

For full details, residents can look up California penal code 4180. Anyone interested in reading the full Coyote Management Plan can find a downloadable PDF at longbeach.gov, along with other information on living with urban wildlife. There is also an interactive map of local coyote sightings.

Residents who want to report a coyote sighting can call the Long Beach Animal Care Services at their 24-hour hotline at (562) 570 -7387 or log a report at longbeach.gov/acs/wildlife/coyote-report/.