Animal control officials seek to assure Glendale residents about coyotes

Animal control officials on Monday sought to ease concerns among Glendale residents unnerved by the prevalence of coyotes in their neighborhoods, saying the canines do play an important role in the local ecosystem and pose little threat to humans.

At the first of two public meeting in Glendale — scheduled to address the increased call volume from residents to animal control officers regarding coyote sighting and conflicts — officials said taking simple measures, such as shoring up pet food and trash, can go a long way in discouraging any unwanted visits.

“Coyotes are naturally very afraid of people,” said Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist for the Humane Society of the United States.

Glendale’s rich habitat and abundant food source attract highly-adaptable coyotes, which help balance the local ecosystem with their rodent control, she added.

Nearly a dozen residents raised their hands at the meeting after being asked whether they had seen a coyote in Glendale.

One of the residents told wildlife specialists she has seen two to three coyotes in front of her Glendale home. At one point, she said a coyote sat down in her driveway and blocked her in.

She feared that they would attack her dogs, so she bought an air horn to scare the coyotes away.

An air horn is one way to get a coyote’s attention and scare it away, White Dasher said. Hazing, she added, is an effective way to scare a coyote and reinforce one’s territory.

Other hazing methods include making yourself appear larger, making loud noises, yelling, throwing items and spraying water. But the technique only works when directed consistently at the same coyotes, White Dasher said.

Despite the prevalence of coyotes in urban areas, attacks are rare. Less than 10 bites on humans are reported each year, White Dasher said.

Coyotes only become aggressive and more comfortable around people when they begin feeding them.

Pet food attracts most coyotes, but unsecured garbage, messy birdfeeders, fallen fruit from trees, vegetable gardens and small pets can also be attractive.

Coyotes become most territorial from December to March — during which they could view unleashed and unattended dogs as a threat.

Pup-rearing occurs from May to August, when coyotes are more localized and use a den, White Dasher said.

Last year, residents on Brockmont Drive said they saw a pack coming in and out of a vacant house and believed the animals were using it as a home base, causing a media ruckus as officials grappled with how to flush the coyotes out without harming them.

That same year, a veterinary hospital blamed a coyote for the death of a white Maltese dog in Montrose.

Coyotes are protective of their dens, but White Dasher said they will move it if they see a threat.

Solitary coyotes begin separating from their groups between September and December, a period when younger male coyotes are looking for an easy meal, she said.

Urban coyotes are most active at night, while their more rural counterparts roam mostly from dusk to dawn.

The key, officials said, is understanding coyote behavior and knowing how to discourage them from settling. But one thing is clear, they’re not going away any time soon.

“We are going to have to share our neighborhoods in the foreseeable future,” said Ashley Hermans, wildlife management specialist at the Pasadena Humane Society.

The Pasadena Humane Society, which provides animal control services for Glendale, will be hosting another meeting -- scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. -- on Tuesday at the Boy Scouts of America’s Verdugo chapter, 1325 Grandview Ave.

-- Veronica Rocha, Times Community News

Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA


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