The Almanac

Coyote trouble again at Portola Valley Ranch

July 18, 2001
Sharon Driscoll, Staff Writer

That wily coyote is back again at the Portola Valley Ranch, and so is the debate about how to rid the neighborhood of the unusually aggressive visitor.

According to the Ranch’s association general manager, Nancy Azzopardi, the coyote has attacked several family pets on leash, stalked trail walkers and moved aggressively toward people. Last year, similar incidents involving a coyote were reported _ so similar, in fact, that people think it is the very same animal.

Ms. Azzopardi wrote to the town last week requesting the same permission granted by the Town Council last summer when a coyote’s behavior was also a problem. At that time, the council waived a regulation prohibiting hunting on private property so that the rogue animal could be shot.

This was the cause of much heated debate, with many folks preferring education and efforts to deter the coyote’s behavior over shooting it. But when the time came to hunt the coyote, it had moved on and was no longer a problem.
In her letter to the town, Ms. Azzopardi wrote, “Every method used last year to discourage his behavior has failed.”

At the Town Council’s meeting on July 11, Ms. Azzopardi’s request was raised as a matter of urgency. Permission to hunt the animal was provisionally agreed to, but delayed until a two-member council subcommittee could meet with Ranch representatives to gather additional information and make a decision as to whether this action really needs to be taken.

“You sort of hate to go ahead with this,” said Councilman Ed Davis. “It goes against the way we do things here in Portola Valley.”

Coyotes normally do not approach humans, but can be lured into yards by easy meals, such as birdfeed or pet food. Residents of the Ranch tried to avoid shooting the coyote last year by making sure those temptations were kept inside. This year the culprit seems to be cat food left in a yard.

“It was very controversial last year, but the little guy moved on when it came time to deal with him,” said Town Administrator Angela Howard. “They believe it’s the same coyote this year.”

By Friday afternoon, Ms. Howard had received about seven messages from Ranch residents concerned about the situation, most worried about the implications of shooting the wildlife that people in Portola Valley normally treasure.