September 20, 2000
Co-existing with coyotes is a good method of rodent control
Coexistence, rather than eradication, is the key to control of coyote wildlife in Central California.
That was the message from conservation and animal protection societies given last week at a workshop in Scotts Valley City Hall.
“Coyotes have a valuable role to play in the mix of plants, animals and humans that live together in most of California, particularly in suburban areas where there’s been rapid population growth,” pointed out Mary Paglieri. She is the founder and executive director of Little Blue Society, started in Februrary 1999 in San Mateo County and headquartered now in Redwood City.
“Coyotes consume a vast number of rodents,” and therefore are valuable to the entire ecological system and to humans, specifically in keeping disease bearing rat and mice populations bearing under control,” she said.
Little Blue Society (the name comes from the look of planet earth from afar in space expeditions) believes there may have been increases in coyote populations in recent years in Santa Cruz and other counties, but she’s not certain.
“Population data has not been collected on coyotes and therefore we don’t have accurate information but we do know that wet years and supplemental food left outdoors and around homes by humans will increase reproduction and survivability of the animals,” she said.
Steve Karlin, executive director of Wildlife Associates, also in San Mateo County, said coyotes can live to be 20 years old when in protected habitat or perhaps older. Their interactions with humans become “emotional.” “We don’t understand that they’re wild beasts but they also show incredible affection, love for their babies. They are group oriented, not so much as wolves, but still protective of their young. They are feeding their families in their own way. It’s their life, it’s their community. We have the ability to adapt our environment. By doing just a few things, we can live together.”
Paglieri, Karlin and other speakers emphasized these points:
1. Keep cats indoors. Make them house pets. A cat has less than 75% chance of living to the age of two if allowed to roam outside.
2. Control food sources. Don’t leave pet food outdoors for coyotes to take advantage of. It will make them dependent on your home as a food source. Let them seek their own souces of food. This will tend to keep their litter sizes and times of pregnancy limited by the amount natural food available.
3. Keep pets, dogs included, indoors at night.
4. Use heavy wire mesh for chicken pens and bury the wire 12” in the ground around the perimeter.
5. Keep garbage in the garage in a heavy duty container that can be locked down
6. Put garbage out in the morning for pickup, rather than leaving it out all night.
7. Left over table scraps should be buried at least 12” deep in the compost pile so the odor doesn’t attract coyotes.
8. Feed pets indoors. Do not leave pet food and water outdoors.
9. Pick fruit off the trees when they ripen and don’t leave it on the ground.
10. Avoid Plants and groundcover that provide harborage for rabbits, rats and othr small animals. And keep landscaping regularly pruned.