Coyotes and Wildlife in Orange County
Many residents throughout Orange County have expressed concerns about coyote sightings and the consequences of predator animals within the urban environment. Some residents have lost their pets to these skilled hunters because they may not have been aware of recent coyote activity in the area.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why are there coyotes in my community?
Coyotes are found in all areas of Orange County. Contrary to popular belief, these animals do not require open space or “wild areas” to survive. In fact, most coyotes within the urban setting are the offspring of generations of coyotes who lived and flourished in the urban areas of Orange County. Although coyote sightings have caused concerns for many residents, it is important to remember that coyotes play a vital role in the urban ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations under control.
2. Are coyotes afraid of humans? Are they a threat to me or my children?
Though urban coyotes are far from domesticated, they are comfortable living in close proximity to human beings. They have little fear of humans and in some areas can be frequently seen trotting along within a few feet of joggers, bikers and horseback riders. While not normally a danger to human beings, coyotes will display defensive behaviors if threatened or cornered; therefore, it is important to leave a comfortable distance between you and a coyote. All children should be taught from a very early age to avoid strange animals, whether domestic or non-domestic. They should also be instructed to never attempt to feed a wild animal. Be aware that coyotes are more active in the spring, when feeding and protecting their young. If followed by a coyote, make loud noises. If this fails, throw rocks or other items in the animal’s direction.
3. Are coyotes a threat to my pets?
Small pets can easily become coyote prey. Cats and small dogs should not be allowed outside alone, even in a fenced yard. It is highly recommended that their owner always accompany small pets. Though coyotes generally hunt between sunset and sunrise, they can be observed at all hours of the day and will not pass up the opportunity for an easy meal. A dog or cat left in a backyard can be taken in a matter of moments. Even a fully fenced yard will not keep out a hungry, athletic coyote. These animals are extremely agile and can easily scale any residential fence.
4. Why can’t coyotes be eradicated or relocated from the area?
Eradication and/or relocation of the urban coyote is not effective. These programs actually provide a vacuum in nature, causing these animals to have even larger litters, ultimately increasing the coyote population. While residents' concerns regarding wildlife are understandable, OC Animal Care is not licensed to trap or relocate healthy wildlife and therefore do not provide these services.
5. Who do I contact if I encounter an aggressive coyote?
If you encounter a coyote that behaves aggressively, you can contact OC Animal Care at (714) 935-6848 and/or the Department of Fish and Wildlife at (562) 598-1032. If an incident happens during a holiday or after normal business hours, you can contact OC Animal Care at (714) 259-1122. Please leave a detailed voicemail and OC Animal Care will return your call as soon as possible. As always, if medical attention is immediately required, please call 911.
6. How can I report coyote sightings?
To report a coyote sighting or to see where there have been coyote sightings within your neighborhood, please visit www.ocpetinfo.com.
7. What can I do to protect my home from coyotes and other wildlife?
Many steps can be taken to protect you and your property from coyotes and other wildlife. The following list of helpful tips can be used to discourage wildlife activity in your neighborhood:
- Keep cats and small dogs indoors or in close presence of an adult
- Teach children to avoid areas with dense vegetation and brush
- Feed pets indoors
- Remove any potential food or water sources from your yard, such as fallen fruit and standing water
- Store trash cans in an area where they cannot be easily tipped over
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around your home
- Keep yards free of potential shelter such as thick brush and weeds
- Enclose the bottoms of porches and/or decks
- Fully enclose any outdoor animal enclosures
- Avoid using bird feeders that may attract rodents and other coyote prey
Taking these preventive measures should help in deterring wildlife from visiting your property. Please remember that if the three life sustaining elements are available (food, water and shelter), you are likely to encounter some wildlife in your area.
OC Animal Care will respond to situations regarding any wildlife that is sick, injured, dead, or has had physical contact with a human or domestic animal. For more information on the laws pertaining to urban wildlife and their protection visit www.wildlife.ca.gov.