Mon10202014

News

Drought may cause increased coyote activity


Courtesy of Santa Clara County Vector Control
Coyotes are on the prowl in the area as they search for water amid the drought.

The drought is killing more than lawns in Los Altos – it also may be indirectly responsible for the death of cats in the city.

The lack of water has resulted in a dearth of resources in the hills for coyotes, according to Animal Control officers, leading some of the canines to venture into Los Altos for prey – including cats.

Anne Hayes said three cats have been killed over the past month in her neighborhood off Edith Avenue. Two of the cats were hers and the other belonged to a neighbor. She said Palo Alto Animal Services, which contracts with Los Altos, examined the remains each time and ruled a coyote the likely culprit.

Cats are easy targets for coyotes, said Animal Control Officer Cody Macartney, who acknowledged that more coyotes are showing up in urban areas because of the drought.

“I’ve been here for 12 years, and these have been two of the worst years of coyote complaints,” said Macartney, who added that his department had received even more reports of cats killed by coyotes last year at this time.

Coyotes tend to be more aggressive in the spring and summer because they are raising their young, Macartney said. If confronted by a coyote – unlikely, given their skittishness around humans – he recommended making loud noises to scare them off.

“Be alert – be aware of your surroundings,” he cautioned.

Hayes agreed, adding, “The main thing is to make sure people are aware and keep their small animals safe.”

Macartney provided the following tips to keep cats and small dogs safe.

• Never feed pets outside.

• Bring pets inside at night.

• Pick up fruit that has fallen in the yard.

While coyotes may not be welcome guests in Los Altos, Macartney said they have the right to live here.

“It’s their home, too,” he said. “It’s about living peacefully with wildlife, about coexisting harmoniously.”

For more information, visit lahopenspace.com and dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild.

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