Riverside has many animal residents within its borders, including coyotes.  Most of the time the animals would prefer to avoid people, but occasionally clashes can occur.  Most coyote conflicts can be avoided with some precautions.  Below is some information on coyotes and how we can avoid conflict.  You can contact the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center or the Humane Society for more information.

Coyote information
Coyotes are not an uncommon occurrence in urban settings that boarder wild spaces.  If you live by mountains, wilderness parks, or preserves, you probably see a lot of wildlife in your neighborhoods.  The nature center has provided some information on coyotes below.

Coyotes are pack animals
Coyotes often mate for life and are devoted parents.  Coyotes will live in packs or family groups.  Each group will include an alpha pair made up of one male and one female.  In addition (though variations occur) they can also include various other adult coyotes, and pups.  Within each group is a pack hierarchy that unless disrupted, remains in place.  Because of this hierarchy, only the alpha male and female pair will mate and produce offspring.  The size of a litter depends on resources available.  If nothing disrupts their natural cycles, coyotes will maintain a population that can be supported by their environment.

Coyote diet
Coyotes are omnivores (meat and plant eaters) and will eat small animals and fruits.  They will scavenge for a meal (eat dead things) or will try to catch something fresh.  Their diets can include rodents, rabbits, fruit, vegetation, insects, and carrion.

Coyote purposes in nature
In nature, there are always more prey animals than predators.  This is why rodents multiply so quickly- if they did not, all of the predators that eat them would wipe out the prey populations and would then starve themselves.  Coyotes are a large predator.  They feed on smaller animals like rodents and also help to keep the mid-sized predator populations (such as foxes) in check.  If coyotes are removed from an area, there would be a population boom of prey animals, such as rats and rabbits, which would result in higher numbers of blood sucking insects that the rodents carry (such as fleas and ticks).

Coyotes are naturally skittish of humans
Despite their appearance in your neighborhood, coyotes are actually naturally skittish of humans.  Coyotes that are not afraid of people are the unfortunate byproduct of urban encroachment.  These coyotes have learned to associate humans with resources (such as food and shelter) either because of unsecured trash/pet food dishes, or because people have voluntarily fed them.

Coyotes in neighborhoods
When you see coyotes in your neighborhoods they are usually looking for resources.  Coyotes are intelligent animals and have learned to associate humans with food, water, and sometimes shelter.  This learned behavior is dangerous and can not only get the coyote killed, but can also be a danger to small household pets.


Solutions to coyotes in neighborhoods
Riverside visitors to the nature center regularly report having seen coyotes in their neighborhoods.  While many people consider them pests, they are an important part of the ecosystem, keeping the rodent populations in check.  But this doesn’t mean we want them in our yards.  Below are some various ways that people deal with coyotes.

Coyote extermination
One way people deal with coyotes is by exterminating them.  They reason that if the animal is killed, the population is lessened and their problem is solved.  However, killing coyotes is only a temporary solution to your coyote issues and will actually cause you more problems in the future.  When you kill an alpha, all of the coyotes of breeding ability will begin to breed (either with existing pack members or outside coyotes) which is normally only something done by the alpha pair of the pack.  This will ultimately result in more coyotes than there were before.  With more pups to feed, adult coyotes may enter neighborhoods more often in search of food to feed the increase in young.  If coyote pups are missed in this attempt, they may go in search of food in neighborhoods.

Coyote relocation
Another way people deal with coyotes is relocation.  While this may seem more humane to some (and thus preferable), relocating coyotes found in your neighborhood is only a temporary solution.  Coyote groups have home territories that they stay within.  When one group leaves, another will move in, allowing for the spread of the species across the country.  Depending on the situation, sometimes a coyote will be able to make its way back home.  Other complications can occur from relocation as well.  If during the first relocation effort some coyote pups are missed, they will wander back into neighborhoods looking for easy meals which will greatly increase the chance of a coyote confrontation.

Coyote hazing
Instead of trying to exterminate or relocate them, coyotes can actually be re-taught to be weary of people with coyote hazing.  Hazing does not involve hurting the animals, but scaring them and allowing them to return home so that they can teach other coyotes that your neighborhood is not safe for them.  If you see a coyote in a place it shouldn’t be (please leave coyotes alone if they are in their natural habitat), such as your neighborhood, you can follow these steps to scare them off:

  • 1.) Get BIG (stand up straight, puff yourself up, raise your arms)
  • 2.) Get LOUD (shout, bang things, use electric sirens and alarms)
  • 3.) THROW rocks or spray water (if steps 1 and 2 didn’t work, but avoid injuring the animal)
  • NEVER let a child haze coyotes (they are not large enough to present a threat)
    NEVER chase or block a coyote’s exit (cornered animals are dangerous, and the goal is to teach them so that they teach others, so make sure that you let them run away and so that they can stay away)
    NEVER run from a coyote

Coyote hazing is easy, but it will work best if everyone in an area practices it to ensure consistency.


Precautions to take to avoid coyote conflict
Coyotes can be taught with hazing to stay out of neighborhoods, but we can also make our neighborhoods unappealing and uninviting to coyotes with some easy precautions.

  • Do not feed coyotes (you may think you’re helping them, but in reality you are teaching them to come near humans which can be dangerous and deadly for them and can lead to coyotes finding your neighbors’ pets).
  • Don’t leave pet food or water outside overnight (it can attract coyotes).
  • Take pets in at night and stay near them when outside.
  • Keep your yards free of anything that could be used as shelter (abandoned structures).
  • Pick up fallen fruit from trees (coyotes eat fruit but will also eat rodents attracted by the fruit).
  • Remove bird feeders or ensure that they are not easy to access by rodents (coyotes will be attracted by the rodents that bird feeders can attract).
  • Lock trash cans/make sure garbage is hard to get at.
  • Enclose gardens and compost piles (avoid putting meat and dairy in compost).
  • Install coyote rollers on fences (coyotes can jump a 6 foot fence) or enclose your property with 8 ft fences.  Make sure that there are no gaps in the fence and that it extends 6 inches underground or has a mesh apron (to prevent coyotes from digging underneath).
  • Consider keeping your cats as indoor cats or providing escape routes and safety perches for your outdoor cats.  Keep cats indoors during dusk through dawn hours especially.
  • Do not allow pets to play with coyotes (it may seem cute, but domestic dogs and coyotes have different signals which can become confused and lead to conflict) and always walk pets on leash (this is Riverside law as well as a basic safety precaution).
  • Avoid going near coyote dens and pups.
  • Appreciate coyotes from a distance.


%d bloggers like this: