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Our Laguna: Meeting about coyotes offers important information

August 09, 2012|By Barbara Diamond
(Courtesy Lauren…)

Coyotes aren't picky and they are opportunists.

Cats, dogs, chickens, ducks and rabbits roaming around a backyard are easy pickings.

Pet owners are advised by the city's animal control officers to keep their dogs and cats indoors and small livestock in coops unless a human is present — preferably one that is armed with a big stick or noisemaker. Don't bank on fences keeping the predators out, as Dunning Drive resident Mona Roberts learned the hard way.

"It was about 7:45 a.m. and I called police because I thought my dog had been stolen; then I found the blood," said a heart-broken Roberts at a meeting she hosted Sunday for other pet owners.

A coyote had snatched Roberts prize-winning Lhasa Apso, Tally, from the deck right outside the kitchen. Another Roberts dog, Peekaboo, was nipped on the nose and had to be quarantined for a month — Sunday was the dog's first day out.

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A group of about 30 worried residents attended the meeting at Roberts' home to learn what folks could do to prevent the same thing happening to their pets.

It's called hazing, according to Senior Animal Control Officer Joy Falk, who conducted the meeting along with Officer Dave Pietarila.

Hazing is aggressive behavior by a human that discourages undesirable behavior or activity by coyotes. It includes yelling "go away" and waving one's arms while approaching the coyote, blowing whistles or air horns, shaking penny-filled soda cans or banging pots and pans together.

Speak loudly and carry a big stick, a cane or a golf club.

Pet owners also can throw small rocks, tennis or rubber balls, turn a hose on the coyote or shoot it with water guns diluted with vinegar.

Police do not advocate the use of pepper spray by untrained individuals, Falk said.

Whatever you do, continue to do it until the coyote completely leaves the area, according to the Animal Services Coyote Hazing Guidelines.

If a coyote has never been hazed before, it might not retreat at first. Keep walking toward the coyote and increase the intensity of the hazing.

You may need to use more than one hazing tactic. The goal is to maintain the coyote's fear of humans and get them out of neighborhood backyards and play areas. Methods need to change so the critter doesn't adjust to it and lose its fear.

Coyotes are skittish by nature and generally back away from aggressive people. However, if you suspect the animal is sick or injured, call the cops. And if you are bitten, immediately get rabies shots.

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