The coyotes are out in force just now in our corner of northeast Los Angeles. A neighbor saw five or six walk brazenly down his street in broad daylight before disappearing down into the canyon below his house. The other evening, another neighbor a few doors away banged loudly on a saucepan while my daughter’s two terriers were barking up a storm. I thought she was complaining about the barking and rushed them inside. Turns out she was trying to discourage several coyotes from approaching any farther up the canyon onto her property. Someone else reported a coyote coming up on her deck and peering through the sliding glass door at her. She shouted and banged on the window until it left. So the pre-dawn cacophony we’d attributed to poorly restrained neighborhood dogs must have been a pack of coyotes.
To a couple of transplanted Easterners, it’s all pretty creepy. I’ve seen evidence of the animals ever since moving here eight years ago – mostly signs on trees for missing cats – but this is the first year I’ve actually encountered any. One morning as I walked my fortunately larger-than-a-coyote dog we stopped in our tracks and stared at a creature. A dog? A coyote? I spoke to a man stopped in his car. “Excuse me,” I said. “I moved here from the East. That is a coyote, isn’t it?” He assured me it was and suggested I change my intended route. The creature and my dog seemed equally curious about one another, but I took the man’s suggestion. Another evening we encountered a smaller coyote and again I hesitated to identify it. A neighborhood dog walker assured me it was a coyote. “A young one,” she said.”He hangs around this corner a lot. He’s probably been banished from the pack for some reason.” “Aww,” I said, “poor thing.” “Don’t even think of befriending him,” she said. Los Angeles County has laws prohibiting feeding coyotes and certain other wild animals, and we’re cautioned against leaving pet food and water outside at night.
As coyotes become increasingly comfortable with us, they become bolder – and more dangerous. Small dogs, cats and even young children become prey. And recently, a man in Colorado walking to work in the early morning was set upon by three coyotes who bit and scratched him for about two minutes until he managed to fight them off with his flashlight. Wildlife experts advise you try to make yourself as big as possible when encountering a coyote: Big shouts, big claps, big arm waves, bright lights. And don’t turn and run; rather, back away slowly.
I thought it might be interesting to add coyote sounds to this post so I went to soundboard.com and clicked on the first entry. Three dogs and one husband leaped up from their naps and into full alert mode. “What was that??” “Never mind; it was just me,” I said. “Go back to sleep.” I’ll let you find coyote sounds on your own.