[KHTS] Santa Clarita residents have seen an increase in coyote presence around residential areas recently, prompting a local park ranger to offer safety tips on how to keep yourself and your pets safe.
“The (coyotes) need food, water and shelter,” Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Services Supervisor Ranger Frank Hoffman said. “And they need those three things arranged in a way that they can get to them.”
Hoffman has been with the Department of Park and Recreation for over 20 years and said the issue of coyotes coming onto residential private property is ultimately the result of the natural cycle of life.
The combination of low levels of rainfall and recent wildfires results in a lack of food and shelter for rodents. When the rodent population dwindles, coyotes need to find an alternative food source, so they head deeper into residential areas.
“Coyotes were here first,” Hoffman said. “We’re building deeper into the hills where they have hunted for generations.”
Another factor that is attracting coyotes into residential areas comes from those who are concerned about their presence: people.
“There are people who are feeding wildlife, attracting animals to their property on purpose,” Hoffman said. “Feeding wi File Photo[/caption]The problem with feeding wild animals is that they begin to associate people with food, Hoffman said, adding that residents should make sure pet food and water is put away and not left out.
Doggy doors should also be closed and locked at night, along with chicken and rabbit coops.
If you are confronted by a coyote in your backyard or on your property, the best thing to do is let them know they are not welcome.
“Make loud noises. If you have a rock, throw it in the direction of the coyote without hitting it. Use a hose and squirt them with water,” Hoffman said.
You should also trim ground level shrubbery to destroy hiding spots and install motion sensors that will turn on lights and scare coyotes away, since the animals “don’t want to be seen.”
Hoffman points out that coyotes are an extremely important part of the environment, serving as nature’s number one rodent control entity.
The El Nino weather system that is slated for this winter season will help with growing plants and shrubbery which provides shelter and food for rodents.
This increase in rodents should keep coyotes at bay, but Hoffman emphasizes that a woodland can take five to seven years to recover from drought and wildfires.
Hoffman says the best thing ultimately is to educate yourself on wildlife.
Every Saturday from 1 – 2 p.m., the Placerita Canyon Nature Center holds an animal presentation.
They bring out live animals and discuss their behavior and eating habits, in addition to answering questions from the audience.
“We need to learn to coexist with wildlife,” Hoffman said. “They we’re here first and they deserve to be here.”