Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Coyote Safety - Step One: Be Informed

Coyote Alert & Information


The California Department of Fish and Game surveys an estimated population range of 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes throughout California. The coyote weighs an average of 18 to 40 lbs. They can run at speeds of 25 mph and sprint up to 40 mph. They mate January through March with pups being born in April through June. They average about 4 to 8 young. Urban coyotes may often die early as a result of being hit by cars, or become afflicted with disease and parasites, such as distemper and mange.

Although coyotes may be seen in a family group which may contain 4 or more, it is the urban coyote that is often seen traveling alone or in pairs. The coyote is a very clever indigenous predator that has conformed to living in close proximity to humans. They are often seen in residential areas around vacant lots, hillsides, parks, city streets, landscaped areas and abandoned properties. Coyotes will travel via use of horse trails, fire roads, aqueducts, flood control channels, freeways, erosion gutters, city streets and sidewalks. Coyotes find water from a variety of sources throughout the City. The coyotes diet consists primarily of rodents, small mammals and insects. When hunting in a pack they will go for larger prey such as deer. Coyotes are also scavengers and will eat fruit, vegetable matter and trash. They are opportunistic as well and will not hesitate to kill cats, small dogs, poultry, sheep and goats when given the chance.


Coyotes are capable of scaling or jumping fences upwards of 5 1/2 feet in height. They can be deterred by increasing the fence height to at least 6 feet and adding an angle at the top facing outward at 45 degrees and 16 inches wide. (For fences over 6 feet check local fence height laws, a variance may be required.) Bury the bottom of the fence at least 12 to 18 inches underground and line the trench with rock to prevent the coyote from digging underneath. An apron underground at the base extending an additional 18 to 24 inches out from the fence should be added as well.

DO’S and DON’T’S

  • Keep your pets indoors or secured in an outdoor kennel. Environmental factors can affect the time a coyote may appear. Coyotes are active during daylight hours also.
    Walk your dog on a leash at all times. If your yard does not have a fence, use a leash while on your property to keep your pet close to you.
  • You may carry something with you for protection such as an air horn, whistle, walking stick or cane.
  • Confine small animals and birds that you cannot keep indoors to covered enclosures constructed of a heavy gauge wire mesh. Coyotes can break through chicken wire.
  • Put all trash bags inside the trash cans and keep all outdoor trash can lids securely fastened to the containers. Place trash bins inside sheds, garages or other enclosed structures.
  • Pick fruit from trees as soon as it ripens and pick up all fallen fruit. Cut low hanging branches to avoid the coyote feeding from trees. Trim ground-level shrubbery.
  • Vegetable gardens should be protected with heavy duty garden fences or enclosed by a greenhouse . Check with your local plant nursery to see what deterrent products are available. If you have access to the Internet, you may find some items on-line.
  • Keep your property well lit at night.
  • Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks and sheds. Coyotes use such areas for resting and raising young.

Share this information with your neighbors. Your efforts may be futile if someone is providing food or shelter for coyotes. Remember this is a neighborhood effort.

Do not feed wild animals. It is illegal to feed predatory wildlife in the City of Los Angeles. (L.A.M.C. Sec. 53.06.5)

  • Do not leave pet food or water bowls outside if your pet is not outdoors. Local law requires that food and water be available to your pet when it is kept outside.
  • However, bring in the dishes when your pet is inside.
  • Do not allow pets to roam from home.
  • Do not set your trash out for pick-up until the day of pick-up to reduce attracting predators in the middle of the night.
  • Do not attempt to pet or otherwise make contact with them. Coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such.
  • Never leave small children unattended.
  • Do not throw food into an open compost pile.


  • Spray a little ammonia in your trash can several times a week to cut the odor of food.
    Place moth balls or moth ball cakes in areas where coyotes sleep or hang out to deter them from staying.
  • Motion activated devices such as lights, strobe lights and sprinklers can be useful.
  • Use radios that are set to talk or news stations to help deter the coyotes.
  • Use a Coyote Shaker: A can containing a few coins which can be shaken and thrown at the coyote.
  • Throw balls or rocks. Bang two pans together, blow a whistle, use an air horn or use high pressure water sprayer.
  • Alternate the deterrents to prevent the coyote from getting used to one method.

Common Q&A

What should I do if a coyote approaches me?

Wave your arms. Shout in a low, loud tone. Throw objects at the coyote while maintaining eye contact. Make yourself look as big as possible; if you are wearing a jacket open it up like a cape. If possible go towards active or populated areas but do not turn your back on the coyote.

How can I keep my dog safe?

If you live in coyote country, closely supervise your dog. Walk your dog on a leash at all times and stay close to high pedestrian traffic areas. Try not to establish a regular routine and route to avoid setting up a pattern for the coyote to detect. Avoid bushy areas or paths near abandoned properties. If you notice a coyote when walking your dog, keep your dog as close to you as possible and move towards an active area. Never encourage or allow your dog to interact or “play” with coyotes.

How can I keep my cat safe?

Keep your cat indoors at all times. If your cat must be outside, consider constructing an outdoor 6 sided enclosure that is made of heavy gauge wire or chain-link with an enclosed access way to the house.

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