Coyote sightings are being reported with increased frequency in the city of Santa Barbara.
Although no humans have been harmed, there have been several reports of pets being killed or injured. In some cases it has been reported that the wild animals appear comfortable around people.
Coyotes are medium-sized animals that belong to the dog family. Most adults weigh between 25 and 40 pounds and resemble a small gray or brown dog.
Their natural diet consists of mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers, and rabbits; however they also eat insects, reptiles, amphibians, fruits, birds and their eggs, and deer fawns. In urban and suburban areas coyotes can also eat domestic house cats, small dogs, poultry, and other animals as well as available pet food and garbage.
Coyotes are typically nocturnal, but during cooler seasons or in drought conditions they may be seen during daylight hours.
Santa Barbara City Animal Control has received complaints of people purposefully feeding coyotes raw chicken near La Mesa Park.
Never intentionally feed a wild animal. Once wild animals have lost their fear of humans through unnecessary interaction they can become aggressive or too comfortable with humans for their own safety.
Not only is feeding wild animals like coyotes irresponsible and dangerous, it is illegal if it results in a change in an animal’s normal behavior patterns.
If you see someone feeding wild animals such as a coyotes, please call 9-1-1. Please respect and help protect these wild animals.
Helpful tips to avoid coyotes:
— Remove sources of food and water, especially at night. This includes pet bowls, fallen fruit from trees, and water in bird baths.
— Secure garbage can lids or store them indoors.
— Ensure outdoor enclosures for rabbits, poultry, birds, etc. are well secured.
— Put away bird feeders and leftover poultry food at night to avoid attracting rodents and other coyote prey.
— Do not leave small children outside unattended.
— Do not leave dogs, cats, and other pets outside unattended, especially at night. Santa Barbara’s Municipal Code 6.08.020(a) states that it is unlawful to cause, permit, or allow any animal to run at large, untethered and unattended, in any unenclosed lot or place; this includes cats. Failure to do so may result in a fine.
What to do if you do see a coyote in your neighborhood:
— Do not approach it.
— Make loud noises.
— If you have a close encounter with any large wild animal, pick up and hold children and small pets. Do not turn your back, instead make loud noises and calmly back away.
For more information on coexisting with urban wildlife, residents can visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.
For wildlife emergencies (sick or injured animals) residents can call SB City Animal Control at 805.963.1513, Wildlife Care at 805.681.1080, or SB County Animal Services as 805.681.5285. To report conflicts or sightings of wild animals, citizens can call the local Fish & Wildlife office at 805.568.1231.
— Sgt. Riley Harwood is the public information officer for the Santa Barbara Police Department.