The Almanac

Portola Valley: Rogue coyotes to be shot

July 12, 2000
Marion Softky, Staff Writer

Within the last month, a pair of coyotes attacked a 50-pound dog being led on a leash by two residents of Portola Valley Ranch walking on a sidewalk.

As a result of this and other incidents, the Portola Valley Town Council June 28 approved an exception to its ordinance prohibiting discharge of firearms within town boundaries.

Now the Portola Valley Ranch Association can hire a commercial hunter to dispatch the animals.

There’s no doubt about which coyotes are to be shot, Councilman Kirke Comstock assured the council. “They are staying in the same area and appear when someone takes their dogs out,” he said. “It’s very clear who they are.”

In a letter to the town, Nancy Azzopardi, general manager of the Portola Valley Ranch Association, noted there had recently been three other incidents when the same coyotes attacked dogs within their yards with adults nearby.

“The coyotes are completely unafraid of humans as they walk boldly through residents’ front yards,” she wrote.

The fear is not just for dogs. The Game Warden considers the coyotes “extremely dangerous to children and pets,” Ms Azzopardi wrote.

The decision to shoot the coyotes has not come easily to the Ranch, where residents take pride in preserving natural habitat and living peacefully with wildlife. “However, our children are at risk due to the uncharacteristically aggressive behavior of these animals, and our children’s welfare must be our first priority,” Ms. Azzopardi wrote.

Other methods of disposing of the coyotes would not be satisfactory, she explained. The Game Warden does not want to trap and relocate them, because they would repeat their aggressive behavior elsewhere, and teach it to their cubs.

They also can’t be tranquilized and euthanized, Ms. Azzopardi wrote, because it is impossible to get within 25 feet of a coyote, which is the range of a tranquilizer gun, according to Urban Wildlife Management, the company being considered for the job.

In moving for the approval, Mr. Comstock noted, “These coyotes pose a danger to animals and people in Portola Valley Ranch.”