The coyote, or urban coyote, seems to be doing quit well with the encroachment of man. They’ve been here for generations and don’t appear to be leaving us any time soon. Maybe you’ve seen one. If not, don’t be surprised if you do. They can be found in every state, and certainly in every city in Orange County.
So, how can we peacefully coexist with these wild creatures? Education. Learning more about them can be the key to enjoying, and not fearing, their presence.
Coyotes are typically a grizzled gray or orangish gray above with buff underparts. They have long legs, prominent ears, a slender pointed snout, and a bushy tail with black tipped fur. Coyotes stand 23”-26” at the shoulder and weigh between 25-40 lbs. as an adult. They are opportunistic hunters and will eat such things as rabbits, mice, gophers, birds, snakes, insects, carrion, and even domestic pets. Their natural enemies are grizzly bears, black bears, mountain lions, and wolves but with their declining populations they really pose little threat in Orange County. Humans now claim the title as their number one enemy.
The chances of encountering a coyote will likely increase over the next several months as coyotes nurture newborn pups and people enjoy warmer weather. Coyotes bear litters during April and May, with females delivering between three and nine pups. Adult coyotes caring for young will need to forage more. Calls often come in that someone has seen a pack of coyotes roaming in an open field or through a park. Coyotes, unlike wolves, do not live in packs. What is often the case is they will hunt in family groups until the pups are fully-grown and go off on their own. Adult coyotes are known to hunt in relays when pursuing larger prey such as deer.
WHAT SHOULD YOU AND SHOULDN’T YOU DO?
· Feed pets indoors and promptly remove their food once done.
· Store pet food in animal proof containers.
· Keep trash in sturdy containers and put it out the morning of pickup.
· Clear brush and excess debris from your yard. Keep yards well lit.
· Keep small children and pets under close supervision. Keep pets on a leash when outdoors.
- Leave food or water out for wildlife
- Try and capture or handle wildlife.
- Put trash out in plastic bags or the night before pickup.
- Allow pets to run loose at any time.
- Fail to report unusual occurrences or encounters with wildlife to Animal Control.
It’s important to understand that the Irvine Police Department and Animal Services Program does not depredate coyotes. We do document sightings and unusual occurrences involving them. If problem animals are identified then efforts to preserve public safety will be taken without having to impact every coyote in the area. Simply wiping them out is seen as a short term, and shortsighted solution. By decreasing their population you upset the balance of nature between predators and prey. With less competition, litter size can increase as well as their survival rate. Additionally, others will simply move in and take their place.
YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Practice the dos and don’ts listed above. Teach your children to avoid stray animals. Keep your pets on a leash and under your immediate control. Report sightings and unusual occurrences to the Irvine Police Department’s Animal Services Program at (949) 724-7000. By doing so, we believe we stand a much better chance of peacefully coexisting with them.