July 25, 2001
Coyote hunt put on hold, for now
The rogue visitor to Portola Valley's Ranch neighborhood _ a fearless coyote causing concern to residents and trail walkers _ got a 30-day reprieve when the neighborhood association's board of directors decided to hold off on seeking permission to hunt and kill the animal.
"It's a 30-day hold on the request to hunt the coyote to try to encourage it to leave the area," said Town Administrator Angela Howard. "The Ranch will need to come back to the Town Council for approval of any further request to hunt it."
According to a letter sent to the council by Ranch association general manager Nancy Azzopardi, the coyote has attacked several pets on leashes, stalked trail walkers, and moved aggressively toward people.
Last year, similar incidents involving a coyote were reported, and the Ranch association board requested special permission from the council to hunt and kill the animal. The council gave permission _ a decision decried by a number of residents _ but that coyote moved on when the time came to hunt it.
The same request was made this year by the Ranch in a letter discussed by the council at its July 11 meeting. The council gave provisional approval to the request, but a council subcommittee was to meet with Ranch representatives to discuss if the action really needs to be taken.
Charles Maroney, Ranch association board president, declined to comment on the issue and the association's controversial request to kill the animal.
According to Danna Breen, chair of the town's Conservation Committee, coyotes are seen in most Portola Valley areas, but seem to be most problematic in the Ranch neighborhood.
"The Ranch is a good stomping ground for coyotes," said Ms. Breen. Land cleared for the nearby Blue Oaks development and in the neighboring Palo Alto hills could be exacerbating the problem, she said.
According to Mary Paglieri of the Little Blue Society, an organization that mitigates human and animal conflict through public education _ and tried to help the Ranch with its coyote problem last year _ the culprit is rarely the wildlife. She noted that the neighborhood abuts natural coyote terrain, which explains many of the problems residents are experiencing.
Coyotes, naturally shy animals, perceive dogs as challengers to their territory and as competitors for food, and will naturally act aggressively toward them, she said.
Ms. Paglieri suggested that residents make sure that birdfeed and pet foods are not left out, and that pet cats are kept indoors. "A cat represents lunch to a wild coyote," she said.
She also advised residents who see coyotes during an early morning walk to change their walking time to later in the morning. Coyotes are nocturnal and most active between dusk and dawn, and most aggressive during their pup season from February through April, she noted.
"Killing this animal will not solve anything," said Ms. Paglieri. "There will only be another one next year, so we need to learn to live with them."