[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
July 17
1834 - Sinforosa, daughter of Narciso and Crisanta, born at Mission San Fernando; mom from Tejon, dad from Piru; believed to be last speaker of Tataviam language (died 1915) [record]

Let's Go Outside | Commentary by Evelyne Vandersande
| Thursday, Mar 7, 2013

evelynevandersande_mugI have often seen coyotes on my street early in the morning or even in the late afternoon, and I always thought it was a gift to be able to observe nature in action so close by.

The thought crossed my mind also that it was unusual to see this animal in daylight, and that food or water must be scarce. Poor little coyote!

That was until I started to do research for this article.

The attacks on dogs and cats have increased tremendously – even dogs that are on a leash. This is becoming frequent, especially in California. There was even a child who was killed, and it seems that the coyotes are becoming less wary of humans in our suburban environment.

coyote5They have been chasing joggers and bicyclists, clearly losing their fear of humans. That is never a good sign with wildlife, as they can be unpredictable. They follow the river bed in Valencia as well as the paseo system, so they have easy access to all neighborhoods. They can jump or climb over high fences and do so in broad daylight.

When a species is making all those changes, we have to understand the underlying reasons.

We are making their life too easy. They do not have to hunt, as they can empty our garbage cans, eat the cat food – and even the cat. They eat all of the fallen fruit under the trees and the berries under the bushes.

coyote3I did not think the bird feeder could be a problem, but it is. Coyotes eat birds, squirrels and even the mice and rats that are attracted to the bird feeder at night. They can drink from the bird bath or the fountain and have been known to chew on irrigation lines.

So please avoid feeding them, because it changes their behavior and brings them too close to our homes and pets. Avoid leaving cat and dog food outside, and keep the materials from bird feeders off of the ground as best you can.

Coyotes have adapted well in densely populated areas, while avoiding contact with humans. One coyote even took up residence in New York City’s Central Park for a few days; how got there is a mystery to me.

It is important to take some precautions. Do not leave your pets unattended outside. A large dog will be OK, but a cat will never be, even during the day.

It is easy to recognize a coyote kill compared to killing by a dog, because the coyote only consumes part of the body. Often it eats the soft belly tissues and leaves the rest.

What do they eat? They are carnivores, so any animal with meat on its bones will do – even carrion, although they prefer fresh meat. Fruits and vegetables are also important in their diet.

Exactly what is a coyote? The coyote looks like a skinny German shepherd, but the tail is bushier with a black tip, and it is held horizontal or down, not up like a flag.

Their hearing is acute and the position of the ears is used to communicate mood and rank in the pack. They also have a good sense of smell, and they mark their territory with their urine.

coyote1Coyotes are not gregarious animals. When food is scarce, their territory can be 15 square miles wide. In area where food is plentiful, like suburbia, they can form a pack of up to 10 coyotes and don’t behave as territorially. A territory can become as small as one-quarter of a square mile in the suburbs of Los Angeles – and this is where were are living.

If you have never seen a coyote close up, I am pretty sure you have seen its scat on the trail. Coyote are canids and use their droppings to mark the area where they have been. The scat, or dropping, is usually displayed right in the middle of the path. (A cat, on the other hand, hides its scat.) The scat often has a pointed end and can contain hair, berries and grass, revealing the coyote’s diet. Scats are brown to light grey and become bleached out by the sun after a few days.

Breeding happens in late January or February. The pups are born in March or April, and the mated pair remains monogamous for a few years. The parents dig a den away from human activity and have four to seven pups.The pups come out of the den at about three weeks, and at 35 days they are totally weaned.

The pups are fed by both parents for the first few months. When they are juveniles, the males will be the first ones to leave the pack at six to nine months of age. The females can remain with the parents longer and will form the pack. They usually hunt in pairs.

One of the special sounds of the night in California is the howl and yipping of the coyote. Many nights, I have lain in bed trying to follow what I imagined was a run for the kill, listening to the yipping grow very shrill. Actually, it could have been simply the calling for the pack, and when the pack is together, the howls get higher and higher. I was not right there, but it sounded like the Wild West was knocking at my door.

We are lucky to be able to experience this, so close to home.



Evelyne Vandersande has been a docent at Placerita Canyon Nature Center for 27 years. She lives in Newhall.




Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


  1. truthpurveyor says:

    Ms. Vandersandt has provided great advice here about not feeding coyotes and other wildlife. Fed wildlife is often “dead” wildlife, because the animals start coming too close to humans and someone kills them.
    —Also, before letting your pet out to do its business, check your yard first. Clap and talk loudly to scare away wildlife.
    —One note: Vandersandt mentions a child being killed…that was back in the 1980’s and the parents were feeding groups of coyotes. The circumstances of the toddler’s death were murky. Coyotes generally fear humans and run away.

  2. Project Coyote says:

    For information about coyotes – and corrections to some of the information in this article – please visit http://www.ProjectCoyote.org/resources

  3. SCV says:

    I often see coyotes in my apartment complex in the evening and at night. One even was stalking my cat without the poor kitty even noticing. Now I keep my cat inside, but I still see cats in my apartment complex on McBean (Skycrest) whose owners let their cats and kittens outside. There is a widely spaced iron fence surrounding the complex that can easily be penetrated by a coyote. Is there any way we can warn cat owners to not let their cats out? It makes me sad seeing small cats out who could easily be the coyotes’ next snack.

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Monday, Jul 15, 2019
Before you travel abroad this summer, keep in mind that Medicare usually does not cover health care services or supplies while you’re traveling outside the United States.
Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019
California Supreme Court weighs in on the question of whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.
Tuesday, Jul 2, 2019
When was the last time you checked your emergency kit, stocked up on water or practiced your family emergency plan?
Monday, Jul 1, 2019
Patriotism and love for our country run deep in our city. These sentiments are proudly displayed in the many Fourth of July celebrations that take place throughout the day.
Friday, Jun 21, 2019
The relationship between workers and the companies that hire them has undergone a sea change in the past 15 months, at least in California.
Friday, Jun 14, 2019
Medicare doesn’t cover "free" genetic tests or cancer screenings unless a doctor who’s treating you orders them and they’re medically necessary.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
College of the Canyons will be able to offer more online education classes and lower the cost of textbooks by expanding the use of online textbooks thanks to a recent education grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.
COC Receives Online Career Education Grant
Air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive individuals in the Santa Clarita Valley again on Thursday, according to the latest forecast from the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Air to be Unhealthy for Sensitive SCV Residents Thursday
The County Counsels and City Attorneys of 10 California jurisdictions have reached a settlement on behalf of the People of the State of California that will provide $305 million to clean up the lead paint that poisons tens of thousands of children across the state each year.
Counties, Cities Settle Lead Paint Litigation for $305M
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce has launched its new Small Business Council which will bring together small business members to discuss issues and policies and support specific small business initiatives within the Chamber.
SCV Chamber Launches Small Business Council
Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce) has released a 2019 Mid-Year Report covering the accomplishments of her service during the first six months of her term.
Hill Mid-Year Report Marks First 6 Months By the Numbers
Motor deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station issued a total of 33 citations to motorists for traffic violations on Monday.
SCV Deputies Cite 33 Motorists for Traffic Violations
Although protecting personal data and improving information security systems are staples of California’s current legislative session, a new report released Tuesday says more than 20 state agencies risk cyberattacks due to lax IT protocols.
Audit: 21 California Agencies at High Risk of Cyberattacks
As part of Santa Clarita’s plan to address homelessness, a multiagency effort called "LeaseUp" is underway to help property owners and managers play a role in addressing the issue by housing people experiencing or on the verge of homelessness.
Multiagency ‘LeaseUp’ Effort Helps Landlords Aid Homeless
1834 - Sinforosa, daughter of Narciso and Crisanta, born at Mission San Fernando; mom from Tejon, dad from Piru; believed to be last speaker of Tataviam language (died 1915) [record]
The Public Outreach and Legislation Committee of the SCV Water Agency is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 18, at 5:30 p.m.
July 18: SCV Water’s Public Outreach, Legislation Committee Meeting
Join Valley Industry Association (VIA) for its inaugural "Christmas in July" joint mixer with JCI Santa Clarita (the Jaycees) on Thursday, July 25, at 5:30 p.m.
July 25: ‘Christmas in July’ Joint Mixer with VIA, JCI Santa Clarita
Santa Clarita’s local artists Zony Gordon and Bonny Butler will be the featured artists at the “Two of Us” art exhibition featuring latest Watercolor & Mixed Media artworks.
SCV Artists to Hold ‘Two of Us’ Exhibit at Fast Frame Gallery
Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles (GSGLA) and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) revealed 42 new badges Tuesday exclusively for girls in grades K–12 that allow them to make their own choices about how they want to experience and influence the world.
Girl Scouts Unveils 42 New Badges Aimed to Empower Girls
On Saturday, July 20, the band Prussia will cool down Central Park with some funk, blues and soul.
North Hollywood-Based Band Prussia to Make Concerts in the Park Debut
The San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative meeting will take place Thursday, July 25, from 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
July 25: San Gabriel Mountains Community Collaborative Meeting
Cruise guests ready to travel through time and space need to look no further than Princess Cruises newest ships – Sky Princess and Enchanted Princess – to experience Phantom Bridge, a world’s first game combining digital and physical elements for the ultimate immersive escape room.
Princess Cruises Newest Ships to Offer Immersive Escape Room
The regular meeting of the William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board will take place Wednesday, July 17, at 7:00 p.m. (with a Closed Session beginning at 5:45 p.m.)
July 17: Hart District Governing Board Regular Meeting
The next Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting (CCAC) will take place Wednesday, July 17, from 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., at the Mint Canyon Moose Lodge Family Center Banquet Room.
July 17: Canyon Country Advisory Committee Meeting
LANCASTER – The JetHawks came to tie the game four times before finally taking the lead in a 6-5 win over the San Jose Giants Monday night at The Hangar. Matt McLaughlin drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning.
JetHawks Rally Against Giants to Take Series Finale
Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita, chair of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management, will partner with the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) for a Wildfire Preparedness Town Hall Meeting in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Smith Partners with LACoFD, LASD for Wildfire Preparedness Town Hall
SACRAMENTO – Last week, Assemblyman Tom Lackey’s, (R-Palmdale), bill to prevent driving while high (AB 127) was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom.
Lackey Bill to Prevent Driving While High Signed into Law
A family recently targeted by a prank 911 call is voicing displeasure with swatting and Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies in a complaint filed less than 24 hours after the family was handcuffed on its front lawn.
Stevenson Ranch Resident Alleges Misconduct by SCV Deputies
1925 - Actor Harry Carey files patent on the original 160-acre Saugus homestead he'd purchased in 1916 (now Tesoro Del Valle) [story]
Harry Carey
After nearly two decades serving College of the Canyons and its students, Dr. Barry Gribbons has agreed to become president of Los Angeles Valley College.
COC’s Gribbons Named President of LA Valley College
%d bloggers like this: