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L.A. County Online
Coping with the Urban Coyote in L.A. County
Last Updated: 01/14


Everyone enjoys observing wildlife in its natural environment. However, many well-meaning residents of urban hillside and rural areas have promoted an unnatural boldness in coyotes by intentionally or unintentionally feeding them.

The highly adaptable coyote is flourishing in populated areas, mostly because of the interesting menu available in the form of handouts, dog and cat food, or easy-to-open garbage cans.

The animal Mark Twain called "the most friendless of God's creatures" is also the most adaptable. Coyotes can survive on whatever food is available, from rodents to rubbish, from insects to fruit to carrion. They can also be a threat to family pets, and, in isolated but tragic cases, have attacked small children.

Essentially unimpeded by control measures, abundant food has encouraged coyotes to become accustomed to the sight and sounds of humans. Consequently, coyote populations and range have expanded enormously in recent years. There are more coyotes now than ever before in history!

Where other natural predators have retreated, rats, mice, and other small animals have increased. In such a situation, the coyote is beneficial, if residents wouldn't provide them with even more convenient meals.

This native member of the dog family closely resembles a medium-size German shepherd dog except it has an elongated snout and bushy, black-tipped tail, which is carried down as it runs. There are thousands of coyotes in Los Angeles County consequently sightings are common. The coyote's larger relative, the wolf, does not occur anywhere in Los Angeles County. At night, the coyote's high-pitched, yodel-like yapping can frequently be heard - especially following the sound of emergency vehicle sirens. Coyotes frequently make a sound far different from the Hollywood movie stereotype. Many people who are unfamiliar with their almost hyena-like yapping incorrectly think they are hearing animals being killed by coyotes at night.
German Shepard
Larger, square robust body Cat size, very bushy tail Smaller, long bushy tail very
pointed nose

DO feed pets indoors or promptly remove dishes when pets complete their meal outside. Store bags of pet food indoors.

DO clear brush and dense weeds from around property. This deprives rodents of shelter and reduces protective cover for coyotes. Use traps and rodenticides, if needed, to control rodents.

DO use trash barrels equipped with tight clamping devices on the lids, which will prevent spills should they be tipped over by large animals.

DO try to educate your friends and neighbors about the problems associated with feeding coyotes. If you belong to a homeowner's association or neighborhood watch, bring up the subject during one of the meetings.

DON'T feed or provide water for coyotes or other wild life. This practice abnormally attracts coyotes and promotes increased numbers of rodents, birds, snakes, and other creatures that can provide major portions of the coyote's natural diet.

It is against the law for residents of Los Angeles County to feed coyotes, and certain other wild mammals.(County Code: Section 10.84.010)

DON'T put trash cans out the night before scheduled pick-up. Put them out in the morning. This will give coyotes less time to scavenge, and they won't have the cover of darkness. Coyotes are mainly active at night or twilight.

DON'T use plastic bags as garbage containers. Coyotes can readily rip them open and scatter the contents.

Always remember: Be kind to coyotes, don't feed them!

Construct six-foot fences with extenders facing outward at the top of each post. (Extenders can be purchased from local fence dealers.) Install two or three stands of wire, extending out at an angle for about 14 inches, completely around fence. This prevents the coyotes from easily climbing. All fences should have some sort of galvanized wire apron buried at least 4 to 6 inches in the ground, which extends out from the fence at least 15 to 20 inches. The apron should be securely attached to the bottom of the fence. Coyotes are very adept diggers and prefer to dig under fences rather than jump them.

Keep small pets (cats, rabbits, small dogs) indoors. Don't allow them to run free at any time. They are easy, favored prey. Some coyotes hunt cats in residential areas.

Large dogs should be brought inside after dark and never allowed to run loose.

Don't leave domestic pet food outside. Wildlife will soon depend upon it.

Run chicken wire from the bottom of chicken coop fence, out about a foot, parallel to the ground. Secure it well. Or bury cinder blocks under fence around the coop. Outfit a rabbit hutch with a solid bottom. A hutch standing above ground, with only a wire bottom, makes your rabbit an easy target.

Never leave small children unattended in areas where coyotes are known to be, even in your yard.

If you have carefully followed the suggestions in this web page, but continue to have coyote problems, please contact your local Animal Control agency, or the L.A. County Agricultural Commissioner / Weights & Measures department for further assistance.

The L.A. County Agricultural Commissioner / Weights & Measures department may be able to help with other wildlife problems, as well. Call (626) 575-5462 for more information.

Read and print a copy of our brochure, "Coyotes: Our Permanent Neighbors"

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