When Burbank resident Nick Mendoza walks his dog now, he carries a softball bat.
That’s because earlier this week, while taking his dog, Kody Bear, on a walk in his neighborhood near 5th Street and Walnut Avenue, the 47-year-old was chased by a large pack of coyotes.
A few days before, he’d seen a smaller pack of coyotes in the neighborhood devouring an animal. While a survey of the neighborhood didn’t yield any missing pets, “it was loud, something got eaten,” he said. The coyotes left once a Burbank police cruiser came and shined its lights, he recalled.
Growing up, the Burbank native frequently saw packs of up to four coyotes around the neighborhood, but they’d usually scatter and run away if he yelled or threw a rock toward them.
But at 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, Mendoza took a break from editing at his computer to take his 8-year-old, 135-pound Newfoundland out for a walk when he noticed five coyotes slowly advancing toward him from behind. Further out, he noticed about another 15.
He started making noises and waving his arms, but they didn’t move.
“At that point, I became prey, I really did,” he recalled.
With his heart pounding, Mendoza turned around and broke into a brisk walk, glancing backward to see that he was still being followed. He was.
“Forget it,” he thought, after which he pulled his dog’s leash and sprinted home. Surveillance video shows the pack of coyotes galloping toward his home about 12 seconds behind him.
Mendoza shoved Kody Bear inside, grabbed a trench shovel and smacked it on the cement driveway a couple times. The coyotes scattered, but didn’t leave. Throwing lemons toward them didn’t work either.
“They were just standing there looking at me,” he said.
Finally, he climbed into his truck and flashed his high-beam lights at the pack, prompting the pack to finally leave.
With the recent heat, Mendoza, along with Burbank city officials, suspected the coyotes were thirsty and hungry.
“They’re desperate,” Mendoza said. “If you’re desperate and hungry, you would just about do anything.”
City officials on Friday warned the public of the sightings and released the following safety tips:
- Never feed or attempt to tame coyotes
- Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house
- Trim ground level shrubbery to reduce hiding places
- If followed by a coyote, make loud noises. If this fails, throw rocks in the animal’s direction
- Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over
- Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates
- Do not leave pet food outside and bring pets in at night
- Put away bird feeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey
- Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles