It’s that time of year again, when coyotes are prone to wander into suburban neighborhoods of Long Beach and surrounding cities in search of food, water or shelter, occasionally preying on cats and even small dogs.
Theresa Hew, a 21-year California Heights resident, said that within the last two months she has found two cats “mutilated” on her property at Lime and 37th Street, prompting her to post fliers to warn residents about the coyote dangers.
“It’s out of control,” she said. “People are getting tired of this. It’s gruesome, and it’s scary.”
Kimberly Peterson, also a California Heights resident and owner of Mrs. Doolittle’s Pet-Sitting Service, said it’s best to keep pets inside, adding that her neighbor’s dog was killed by a coyote.
Peterson said the pet killings have a lot to do with the prevalence of feral cats in neighborhoods. She attributes the influx of stray felines to the fact that residents have had to leave their cats behind due to foreclosures, adding that some people are irresponsible by not spaying or neutering their cats as well. “We’ve lost five or six feral cats on our block,” Peterson said.
Coyotes and other wildlife, including raccoons, opossums and squirrels, are particularly active in Southern California during warm-weather months that make for suitable breeding conditions, explains Ted Stevens, director of Long Beach Animal Care Services (ACS).
“It gets really crazy around this time of year, every year,” he said. “As spring comes around and then summer, it’s warm, sunny, stays light longer, and all the animals are breeding.”
In Long Beach, there were a few coyote sightings reported in June, and there was at least one pet attack reported this month, Stevens said. No coyote sightings or attacks on pets were reported in Signal Hill in the last few months, he said.
The recent coyote activity comes after similar reports last summer in which residents described at least five pets being attacked in the Naples area.
Coyote sightings in neighborhoods are quite common, however, the department will respond if a coyote is spotted threatening a person or a group of people, particularly children, during the day, Stevens said.
In general, however, ACS instructs residents to use “hazing” techniques to shoo the coyotes away and instructs residents not to run away from them.
According to the ACS website, this practice may involve: standing tall; yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote; using a whistle, air horn or other noise device; banging pots and pans together; stomping feet; using a water hose or pepper spray; or throwing tennis balls or rocks at the coyote.
Stevens said the goal is to make sure the coyote “maintains its fear of humans.”
Some residents have recommended using wolf urine, which ranchers use to protect livestock. Hew notes that the substance can be purchased online at predatorpee.com and vials may be strategically placed at the perimeter of a person’s property.
According to ACS, other suggestions for deterring coyotes include: never feeding coyotes or any other wildlife; keeping pets and pet food inside; removing fallen fruit from the ground; bagging food wastes such as meat scraps or leftover pet food; and keeping trash in containers with tight-fitting lids.
ACS also recommends: feeding pets during the day for no more than one hour and then removing the food and water bowls when finished; staying close to your pet when taking them outdoors and always keeping them on a leash, especially from dusk through early morning hours.
Stevens said coyotes often spread out into neighborhoods from the flood channels, riverbeds and other natural open spaces in the area. Coyotes are most commonly seen in neighborhoods near El Dorado Park, wetlands areas and vacant land in Signal Hill in addition to cities in southeast Orange County near the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, which is breeding ground for coyotes, he said.
Los Alamitos implemented a trapping program nearly three years ago in which coyotes were trapped and eventually killed, but Stevens said the method is ineffective since the City has already reported coyotes returning.
Stevens added that despite fears of coyotes biting children, a coyote attack on a human is “extremely rare” and he hasn’t heard of it ever happening locally. In all of California, last year there were only two reports of coyotes attacking humans and both were in Palm Springs, Stevens said.
While it’s advised to keep cats indoors, he added that it’s important to note that cats have a higher chance of being hit by a car than being killed by a coyote.