California has recently experienced a rash of coyote attacks, and more often than not, the victims are children. This summer in the town of Irvine alone, there have been four separate incidents of children being attacked and injured; one case saw a two-year-old bitten right in the family garage.
While this streak of coyote attacks has been occuring in Southern California, it's important to remember that Northern California is also home to coyotes, with a population of anywhere from 1.5 to 3 million statewide. Sacramento County and surrounding areas are certainly no stranger to coyotes, who roam not only the foothills and rural fields, but the entire length of the American and Sacramento Rivers, bringing them into close contact with our neighborhoods.
If coyotes - implicated in a string of recent attacks on children - are living nearby, then how can we keep our kids and pets safe? The California Department of Fish & Wildlife has some important tips to help prevent coyote attacks and ensure family safety. Here are the key points:
- Never feed coyotes. In addition, make sure your trash containers are securely sealed - don't give coyotes a free meal.
- Remove sources of water, especially when it's hot. Coyotes get thirsty and have no problem wandering into your neighborhood looking for a drink.
- Maintain a strong fence to keep coyotes and other wild animals out of your yard. Install motion-activated lights around your house to deter coyotes at night.
- Trim ground-level shrubbery on the grounds of your home so that coyotes don't have any extra hiding places.
- Bring in birdfeeders at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
- Secure rabbit and poultry cages to prevent coyote access.
- Know that coyote activity is highest in the spring, when the animals are rearing and hunting for their pups.
- Don't leave small children or your pets outside unattended. Also remember to not leave pet food outside.
- Stay aware on park and wilderness trails. If a coyote is following you, raise your arms and make loud noises to scare it away. Should it keep coming, throw rocks in its direction.
- If you or your child are attacked by a coyote, always fight back and make it run away. Call the Department of Fish & Wildlife or law enforcement to report aggressive coyote behavior in your neighborhood.
While coyotes are most likely to avoid humans, it's crucial we don't allow them any opportunities to attack our children or pets. All this can be enacted through simple, sensible steps to secure our property along with adequate supervision to keep our kids and the family pets out of harm's way.