In a brochure issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, it points out in bold capital letters: STASH YOUR FOOD AND TRASH.
That’s the main message Tom Jacobs, a captain with the South Pasadena Police Department who also serves as a liaison on the city’s Animal Commission, wants to leave with residents to allay fears of coyotes coming into local neighborhoods in search of, perhaps, their next meal.
The brochure further states: “Allowing coyotes access to human food and garbage is reckless and deadly.”
Jacobs couldn’t agree more. “A way people can protect themselves in their neighborhood or home is not to leave food outside,” he stressed. “Food can attract coyotes to an area. It’s free food. Leaving food outside for pets is not recommended.”
When given food and garbage, coyotes lose caution and fear, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife brochure. They then become a threat to pets, livestock and even threaten human safety.
Another tip from Jacobs – protect your animals. “I think it’s beneficial when people walk their dogs that they keep them on a leash,” he said. “Single dogs have a way of attracting more coyotes than dogs that are leashed.”
South Pasadena City Councilmember Diana Mahmud said concerns for a coyote is an area-wide concern in which the San Gabriel Council of Governments (SGVCOG) is proposing a regional Coyote management policy. Coyotes don’t observe city boundaries. “It’s really important that the city’s work together in managing coyotes.”
SGVCOG is a joint powers authority made up of representatives from 30 cities, including South Pasadena, three Los Angeles County Supervisorial Districts, and the three municipal water districts located in the San Gabriel Valley. Collectively, they serve as a regional voice to improve the quality of life for those in the San Gabriel Valley.
Mahmud says residents are understandably concerned about the wild animals. “Unfortunately, coyotes are particularly aggressive now because this is their mating season,” she said. “That’s why I think we’re seeing some additional instances of coyotes becoming more aggressive than they usually are.”
Both Mahmud and Jacobs say the existence of coyotes is common throughout the San Gabriel Valley. “The reproduction time for coyotes is now for the next few months,” Jacobs said. “There’s a lot more activity with the coyotes.”
Attempting to diminish the coyote population, noted the police captain, actually increases it because the females have larger litters.
“What they’ve found in other cities is it’s not real effective for trapping or diminishing the population,” explained Jacobs. “Because of that they’ve found that its easier for people to manage their own houses or neighborhoods, keeping the garbage down, that type of thing, to alleviate the draw for the coyotes to come into the town itself.”
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife brochure indicates that coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food, but will take advantage of whatever is available, including garbage, pet food and domestic animals.
Jacobs says it’s a matter of learning how to coexist and know what to do when coyotes come into neighborhoods.
He urges residents with concerns to attend a key meeting in the city at the end of the month. The South Pasadena Animal Commission and Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA’s Wildlife Coordinator Lauren Hamlet will be at the South Pasadena Library Community Room on Wednesday, February 27 at 7 p.m. for a presentation on coexisting with coyotes.
Addressed will be: How to make your property uninviting for coyotes, keeping your pets safe in coyote prone areas, and techniques to use if you encounter a coyote.
The hour-long event, which will include a video, will be followed by a question and answer session.
Jacobs will be among those in attendance.
“We’ll be doing it to educate the public on things people can do about the coyotes,” he said, noting that the Animal Commission has a good list of links on the city’s website where individual can check sources on how to coexist with them.
Some residents report coyotes being aggressive towards people. “Years of drought and warmer weather have caused wild animals, like coyotes, to venture further into local communities in search of food, water and shelter,” said Mahmud.
Jacobs said coyotes can prey alone, or in packs, which makes them dangerous to cats and small dogs. They are primarily nocturnal, but coyotes have been witnessed in the early morning and afternoon hours. He said co-existing with coyotes is a community effort, being mindful to not leave food outdoors.
The following are some tips from the South Pasadena Police Department to coexist with coyotes:
- Carry a whistle while exercising.
- Never turn your back or run if you see a coyote.
- Be aggressive, yell or make noise if you see a coyote.
- Keep pets indoors, coyotes can jump 5-6 foot high fences.
- Pick up low hanging, or fallen fruits.
- Don’t leave pet food, or water bowls outdoors.
- Keep lids tight on trashcans.
- Keep barbecue grills clean.
- Walk dogs on a leash and hold small dogs if you see a coyote.