Many residents of Irvine express concerns about coyote sightings and the consequences of predator animals within the urban setting. Some animal owners have lost their pets to these skilled hunters because many are not aware of recent coyote activity in the area.
Coyotes are found in ALL areas of Orange County. Contrary to popular belief, these animals do not require open space or “wild areas” to survive. In fact, most coyotes within the urban setting are the offspring of generations of coyotes who lived and flourished in the urban areas of Orange County.
Though these animals are far from domesticated, they are very comfortable living in close proximity to human beings. They have little fear of man and have been seen trotting along within a few feet of joggers, bikers, and horseback riders. While not normally a danger to human beings, coyotes will display defensive behaviors if threatened or cornered. Thus, it is important to leave a comfortable distance between you and a coyote.
Small pets can easily become prey for coyotes. We recommend that cats and small dogs should not be allowed outside alone during evening hours, even if in a fenced yard. It is highly recommended that small pets always be accompanied by their owner. Though coyotes generally hunt between sunset and sunrise, they can be observed at all hours of the day.
There are many steps that can be taken to protect you and your property from nuisance wildlife to include coyotes:
- Do not feed coyotes.
- Fence off animal enclosures (fully enclose if possible).
- Keep cats and small dogs indoors or in the close presence of an adult.
- Feed pets indoors.
- Store trash in covered heavy duty containers with secure lids.
- Keep yards free from potential shelter such as thick brush, weeds, wood piles, or excess debris.
- Enclose the bottoms of porches and decks.
- Eliminate potential food and water sources, such as, fallen fruit and standing water.
- Keep your property well lit at night.
- Put your trash out the morning of pick up.
- Motion sensitive sprinklers may be effective in areas of high concern.
- Keep small children under close adult supervision at all times.
If you do encounter a coyote which behaves aggressively, you have probably gotten too close to its prey or its family. Increase the “comfort zone” between you and the coyote. A coyote behaves in a similar way as domestic dogs who are defending their territory and family. All children should be taught from a very early age that they should avoid strange animals, whether domestic or non-domestic. They should never attempt to feed a wild animal. When older children are hiking or playing in parks, greenbelts, or open space areas they should be instructed on coyote safety such as is discussed above. Small children should be under close supervision of a responsible adult at all times.
Eradication and/or relocation of the urban coyote is not typically effective. These control measures actually provide a natural vacuum in nature that can cause these animals to have even larger litters and ultimately increases the coyote population.
Being well informed on outdoor safety and practicing the steps above is often the best way to discourage unwanted visits from nuisance coyotes. Everyone’s goal should be to peacefully coexist with our wild neighbors.
You can find additional information regarding coyotes by way of the links below:
For further information, contact Irvine Animal Services - Field Patrol at (949) 724-7092.