A reported increase in coyote sightings has prompted Westminster police to remind residents of ways they can keep their pets and families safe.
Westminster Animal Control Officer Crystal Sheldon said they have received increased reports of coyotes in neighborhoods and local parks.
The number of domestic animals being attacked by coyotes has also gone up, Sheldon said.
Some hot spots in Westminster include areas near the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station at Bolsa Chica Street and Westminster Avenue and Memorial Park at Beach Boulevard and Bolsa Avenue, Sheldon said.
But coyotes aren’t picky when it comes to where they prowl; they’ll go wherever they can find a meal and water source.
“There are coyote sightings throughout the whole city,” Sheldon said. “Any time there is a coyote sighting or we pick up an animal killed by a coyote, we track that, and there has been an increase.”
While coyotes have long shared an urban habitat with Orange County residents, Sheldon said there are various reasons the community may be experiencing more sightings.
“It could possibly be due to the drought but there is also more media coverage about coyotes, so maybe people are more aware of them, too,” Sheldon said.
In the last month, Sheldon and Animal Control Officer Shanyn Behn have each responded to reports of coyotes lurking in neighborhoods during daytime hours.
Sheldon’s call involved a coyote wandering a cul-de-sac that couldn’t seem to find its way out, she said.
Sheldon hazed the coyote, which means scaring the animal so they maintain their fear of humans.
“I yelled, followed it with my truck, honked my horn and banged on the door of my truck until it finally made its way into a fenced-off park that is under construction,” she said. “When a coyote loses its fear of people, that’s when it becomes dangerous.
“When they lose their fear, they could come right up to a person, and that can result in a bite.”
Here are some coyote tips from Westminster Animal Control to keep pets and children safe:
- Do not leave trash, fallen fruit, bird seed or pet food in the yard.
- Keep unused water features empty.
- Small pets should be kept indoors at night and during early morning hours.
- Residents who must take small pets outside at these times should do so with a leash, even in their own yards.
- Small pets and small children should be supervised when outside.
- Residents should haze a coyote if they contact it – yell, make yourself look bigger, wave your arms or use a noise maker.
- Do not run from a coyote.
- If a coyote displays aggression, slowly back away.
Contact Animal Control at 714-548-3201 or the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 858-467-4201 for aggressive coyotes.