What should local residents do when coyotes enter their neighborhoods and act aggressively? Haze them.
“Hazing is basically speaking coyote. If you see that coyote coming across the street and you run at him– ‘HEY!!!’– and chase him, he’ll run,” said Ted Stevens, manager of Animal Care Services in Long Beach. “And then what has he learned as a smart, intelligent animal? ‘That person wants to kill me.’ That’s how you keep them afraid of people.”
Stevens discussed coyotes, and how to deal with them, as well as other wildlife, in a presentation entitled “Living With Wildlife in Long Beach” at the Wrigley Area Neighborhood Alliance’s meeting at Veterans Park on May 20.
Just as residential environments attract droves of people, they attract many coyotes too. What bring the coyotes and other wildlife to people’s homes are the essential elements of survival.
“Wildlife are generally interested in only a few things– food, water, and shelter – and if you have those in your back yard, they’re going to hang out there,” Stevens said.
Stevens recommended taking pet food inside and securing the areas under homes with raised foundations. Also, don’t feed animals, and make sure bird feeders are clean, he said.
Coyotes, which are among the fastest land mammals in North America, are attracted to Long Beach because of the habitat and the food, Stevens said. Food and water attract animals like squirrels, rats, and mice to homes, and in turn this attracts coyotes because they normally eat smaller mammals, he added.
With all of these lures, it’s no wonder that residents are seeing more coyotes.
“I see coyotes all the time in these neighborhoods,” said Long Beach Police Department Lt. Kevin Coy.
“It’s something that we’re living with, and it’s more so than I ever have before,” Coy added.
With so many coyotes, some people might try to trap them or remove them. In California, however, it’s illegal to trap wildlife unless they’re damaging property, and it’s also illegal to try to relocate wildlife, Stevens said.
He also highlighted the fact that it’s more important for people to remove what’s attracting the wildlife to their homes, since other animals just move in and replace the removed animals. But if people have legally trapped an animal, they can call animal control, he said.
Yet humans don’t need to worry about coyotes too much. Coyote attacks against humans are rare, as “they don’t look at us as food,” Stevens said.
“We’re too big…we’re too much hassle,” he said. “They don’t really have a reason to attack us.”
Stevens mentioned that most attacks against humans happen when people try to defend their pets against coyotes. He recommended accompanying pets at all times when outside and keeping small pets indoors.
“If you are going to…take your dog outside, go outside with them,” Stevens said. “You want that coyote to see you and associate you with your pet.”
Coyotes, which can jump more than eight feet high, can be aggressive toward large dogs during the winter breeding season because they see them as competition, Stevens added. He recommended clearing away any brush, securing trash cans, disposing of fallen fruit, purchasing motion-detecting sprinklers and lights, and even using water guns filled with vinegar and water as deterrents.
Regarding children, Stevens advised that an adult should accompany them and they should make lots of noise and yell if they encounter a coyote.
“You want them to be big and to make noise and…jump up and down and confuse the coyote,” Stevens said.
Furthermore, since removal and relocation of coyotes aren’t efficient, it seems as if the best bet is to engage in hazing, which Stevens said is “the use of various techniques to re-instill the natural fear of humans back to habituated coyotes.”
Coyotes “understand…dominance,” and pass on their learned behavior to their pups, Stevens said. But he recommended calling Animal Care Services instead of hazing a sick coyote and warned against hazing a cornered coyote.
Moreover, coyotes need to make the connection that it’s a person displaying that behavior, Stevens added.
The coyotes in Joan Greenwood’s neighborhood made that connection when she hazed them. She would dress in a trench coat and growl at them, facing them down with her broom in the middle of the street “to make sure they wouldn’t come back,” she said.
“They’re very cautious now,” Greenwood said. “They totally avoid my side of the street now.”
For more information visit longbeach.gov/acs/wildlife/default.asp .