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Co-existing with coyotes is a good method of rodent control

September 20, 2000
Jack Fraser, Staff Writer

Coexistence, rather than eradication, is the key to control of coyote wildlife in Central California.

That was the message from conservation and animal protection societies given last week at a workshop in Scotts Valley City Hall.

“Coyotes have a valuable role to play in the mix of plants, animals and humans that live together in most of California, particularly in suburban areas where there’s been rapid population growth,” pointed out Mary Paglieri.  She is the founder and executive director of Little Blue Society, started in Februrary 1999 in San Mateo County and headquartered now in Redwood City.

“Coyotes consume a vast number of rodents,” and therefore are valuable to the entire ecological system and to humans, specifically in keeping disease bearing rat and mice populations under control,” she said.

Little Blue Society (the name comes from the look of planet earth from afar in space expeditions) believes there may have been increases in coyote populations in recent years in Santa Cruz and other counties, but she’s not certain.

“Population data has not been collected on coyotes and therefore we don’t have accurate information but we do know that wet years and supplemental food left outdoors and around homes by humans will increase reproduction and survivability of the animals,” she said.

Steve Karlin, executive director of Wildlife Associates, also in San Mateo County, said coyotes can live to be 20 years old when in protected habitat or perhaps older.  Their interactions with humans become “emotional.”  “We don’t understand that they’re wild beasts but they also show incredible affection, love for their pups.  They are group oriented, not so much as wolves, but still protective of their young.  They are feeding their families in their own way.  It’s their life, it’s their community.  We have the ability to adapt our environment.  By doing just a few things, we can live together.”

Paglieri, Karlin and other speakers emphasized these points:

1.    Keep cats indoors.  Make them house pets.  A cat has less than 75% chance of living to the age  of two if allowed to roam outside.
2.    Control food sources.  Don’t leave pet food outdoors for coyotes to take advantage of.  It will make them      dependent on your home as a food source.  Let them seek their own souces of food.  This will tend to keep their litter sizes and times of pregnancy limited by the amount natural food available.
3.    Keep pets, dogs included, indoors at night.
4.    Use heavy wire mesh for chicken pens and bury the wire 12” in the ground around the perimeter.
5.    Keep garbage in the garage in a heavy duty container that can be locked down
6.    Put garbage out in the morning for pickup, rather than leaving it out all night.
7.    Left over table scraps should be buried at least 12” deep in the compost pile so the odor doesn’t attract coyotes.
8.    Feed pets indoors.  Do not leave pet food and water outdoors.
9.    Pick fruit off the trees when they ripen and don’t leave it on the ground.
10.    Avoid Plants and groundcover that provide harborage for rabbits, rats and othr small animals.  And keep landscaping regularly pruned.

4.

Santa Cruz Sentinel
Coyotes: Suburbs create ‘fast food restaurants’ for opportunists
Group offers suggestions on coping with coyotes

September 17, 2000
Jondi Gumz, Staff Writer

SCOTTS VALLEY — Two weeks ago, Shirley Pierce saw an amazing sight from the deck of her home — a coyote “feeding frenzy” at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
Pierce and her husband have lived in the Hidden Glen neighborhood, just down the street from Henry Cowell State Park, for 23 years. She was astonished to find coyotes have become her next-door neighbors.

“We’re nose-to-nose with them,” she said.

She’s not the only one.

From Granite Creek in Scotts Valley to Ben Lomond and Lompico, people report hearing — and seeing — more coyotes, literally in their back yards. Residents who have lost pet cats blame the coyotes. Others, seeing the boldness of the coyote, are worried about their own safety.

This doesn’t surprise Mary Paglieri, founder of a San Mateo-based organization that aims to manage conflicts with wildlife through education. Her organization, Little Blue Society, got its name because from a distance, Earth looks like a “little blue” orb.

Paglieri is getting invitations from around the San Francisco Bay Area to advise people how to cope with the coyotes. About 15 people came to hear her talk in Scotts Valley last week.

The problem, she said, is that people are creating “fast food restaurants” for coyotes, who normally spend dusk to dawn foraging for survival.

Although coyotes are adept hunters, they are opportunistic in their eating habits. Rodents make up 90 percent of their diet, but wildlife experts have found coyotes also will eat carrion, spilled garbage, compost leftovers and even fallen fruit.

Some people enjoy leaving out food for wildlife, while others may provide an inadvertent supply via bird-feeders that spill seed that attracts rats and then coyotes. Food bowls or water dishes for pets, left outdoors, also can be alluring.

“If you create the opportunities, they will come,” Paglieri said.

Once coyotes discover this quick and easy food source, they tend to become more aggressive, and may confront humans.

“Eventually someone feels threatened by its presence, and it’s a death sentence,” Paglieri said, recommending that humans change their habits to remove the food that brings coyotes around.

While some people may think the solution is to shoot or trap and remove the coyote, Paglier contends that this will result in the arrival of a new coyote to take over the territory.

People have begun noticing coyotes during the summer because this is when pups are taught how to hunt, increasing the demand for food, said Jim Nee, a Santa Cruz wildlife biologist and county agricultural inspector.

The population is growing because the coyote has only two main predators — man and mountain lions. Moreover, if food and water are abundant, litter sizes increase.
“It’s a natural phenomenon,” Nee said.

Residents like Shelley Roge worry that coyotes are ranging further afield because of development.

“Rampant human development is shrinking their environment,” Paglieri said, citing an example in Portola Valley where million-dollar homes were built next to a “wildlife corridor.”

In the past three years, Scotts Valley has seen the woods and fields at the southern end of the city give way to the Monte Fiore subdivision and the Inn at Scotts Valley.

Two other large residential developments have been proposed for Glenwood Drive and the former Polo Ranch next to Inprise.
Just outside the Scotts Valley city limits, the Graham Hill showgrounds also is undergoing residential development. In the San Lorenzo Valley, logging could send animals searching elsewhere for food.

“More foresight into development can help,” said Paglieri.

In San Ramon, where officials proposed a bocce court, barbecue and fruit trees near an old coyote den, she recommended flowering trees instead and emphasized the importance of keeping grills clean.

Nee advised people who live near streams — the coyote’s water source — to encourage them to go elsewhere by scaring them with a blast of a water hose or a noisy soda can filled with pennies.

“They need to learn we don’t want them to be chummy,” he said.
A combination motion detector-sprinkler, available at Orchard Supply Hardware for $90, is another alternative.

“Since it works on dogs, I’m confident it would work on coyotes,” Nee said.
Marsha Rowan of Ben Lomond, who lost her cat to a coyote, now keeps her pets indoors at night. She knows coyotes are still around.

“I hear them every day at 4 a.m.,” she said.

Steve Karlin of Wildlife Associates, who cares for “non-releasable wildlife” in Half Moon Bay, said he could sympathize with the people whose pets may have been devoured by a coyote.

“You have this vision of a wild beast tearing apart your pet,” he said. “We want to villainize this creature we don’t understand.”
Still, there is more to the picture.

“We know coyotes can show affection,” he said, citing how parents keep tabs on pups and how coyotes hunt together when food is scarce. “They don’t think they are murdering. They are feeding themselves in the only way they know how.”

IF YOU SEE A COYOTE
*    Do not advance toward it

*    Do not smile or bare your teeth

*    Calmly leave the area If a coyote approaches you:

*    Do not run

*    Do not turn your back

*    Stand tall, make loud noises

*    Toss an object at it

*    Keep yourself between the animal and small children

TO KEEP PETS SAFE
*    Keep them indoors

*    Walk pets on a leash

*    Put up a 7-foot post with a perch for outdoor cats

*    Don’t leave food outdoors

*    Fence your yard

Tips from Little Blue Society
For more information, call 650-365-8623

Contact Jondi Gumz at jgumz@santa-cruz.com