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Coyote Attacks On The Rise In Saratoga, County Installs Traps

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SARATOGA (CBS SF) — The Santa Clara County Vector Control District has placed snare traps in a Saratoga neighborhood where residents complained recently of coyotes attacking animals and walking too close to humans, a district official said.

Some coyotes in the area of Oriole Road a few blocks north of state Highway 9 in Saratoga have been spotted following joggers and in one case killed a resident’s chickens, the district’s acting manager Russ Parman said.

A single box trap put in place for about a week caught nothing so the district has installed at least four snare traps that collar the dog-like wild animals but do not choke them, Parman said.

When coyotes openly walk down streets, it is a sign that people have been feeding them, allowing them to live in or near their yards, and almost treating them like pets, Parman said.

“They’re kind of not afraid of people anymore,” Parman said. “We don’t want it to get to the bite stage.”

People should be engaging in “hazing” or discouraging the coyotes by yelling at them, stomping on the ground or even throwing rocks toward to make them fearful of humans, Parman said.

Coyotes, which will catch and devour small pets, can become so bold as to bite humans and in rare cases try to drag away toddlers, Parman said.

Parman said he recalled a case where the brother of a small child shooed away a coyote that just dragged the child into some bushes in the Windy Hill Open Space Preserve in Portola Valley, Parman said.

If a coyote is caught in a trap, something that is difficult to do, the animal will be put to death, Parman said.

Under the state’s fish and game code, relocating a trapped coyote is not permitted, he said.

It would be hard for a predator like a coyote to survive in a place with established predators and a coyote from a residential area might pass diseases from domestic animals on to wildlife, Parman said.

Rebecca Dmytryk, president of Wildlife Emergency Services, a Moss Landing-based group that rescues wild animals, said people in residential areas should be more responsible managing the coyotes they see on their streets.

“The end result is these animals get killed,” Dmytryk said. “They just kill them because it’s easier.”

Residents need to learn to scare coyotes away and to build suitable cages to protect vulnerable animals, Dmytryk said.

Trapping and killing coyotes can even backfire, since many that leave the wild are breeding males or females, and if one is killed, it can lead to a breeding frenzy that would make the problem worse, she said.

“We need to man up, human up, about an approach to live with those animals,” Dmytryk said.

“We’re just looking at it from a public health perspective,” Parman said.

“No one wants to euthanize animals,” he said. “The more we can educate these people not to feed them and to make it uncomfortable for them, the fewer times were are going to see this kind of thing.”

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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