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CERRITOS - Officials from local cities are warning residents to be cautious after a recent increase in coyote sightings in Cerritos and Norwalk.
Officials suggest residents limit their chances of coyote encounter by feeding their pets indoors; keeping their yards free of thick brush and weeds; enclosing the bottom of their porches and decks; and eliminating potential food and water sources, such as fallen fruit or standing water.
Small animals should also be kept indoors unless supervised. Coyotes can easily scale residential fences, putting small animals at risk.
Adult coyotes are mainly active at night or in the early morning hours, while young coyotes are often active during the day.
California coyotes have adapted to residential neighborhoods, parks and open spaces in urban and suburban areas. They are especially prevalent in areas bordering a flood channel.
Cerritos officials said residents who spot a coyote should attempt to frighten it away by shouting, throwing rocks, squirting it with a water hose, blowing portable air horns, or otherwise acting aggressively "in order to reinforce the coyote's fear of people."
Motion-sensitive lights on houses or outbuildings may also deter coyotes from approaching.
If you are approached by an aggressive or fearless coyote, Cerritos officials recommend:
Shout in a deep voice
Wave your arms
Throw objects at the animal
Look the coyote directly in the eyes
Stand up if you are seated
If you are wearing a coat or vest, spread it open like a cape so that you appear larger
Retreat from the situation by walking slowly backward so that you do not turn your back on the coyote
Coyotes have seemingly lost their fear of humans, which may be a result of behavioral changes that have occurred over several generations of coyotes, in localities where predator control is no longer practiced. Coyotes thrive in such areas because food, water and shelter are abundant, and coyotes living in these environments may come to associate humans with food and protection.
Once attracted to suburban areas, they prey on the abundant rodents, rabbits, birds, house cats and small dogs that live in residential habitats. They also eat household garbage, pet food, and seeds and fruits of many garden and landscape plants.
In some communities, this has resulted in the development of local coyote populations that seemingly ignore people, while a few coyotes have become increasingly aggressive toward humans. Some coyotes have stalked and even attacked children or adults, or have attacked pets being walked on a leash by their owners.
Published: Nov. 7, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 30