Forget freshman hazing - haze a coyote instead.
That’s the main advice Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist with the Humane Society of the United States, gave to more than 60 people in Long Beach on Thursday. Dasher has been educating residents and animal control agencies in the region about humane alternatives for dealing with coyotes. Over the last year, coyote attacks on pets from Laguna Beach to Long Beach have sparked outcries and efforts to trap and kill the animals.
Dasher's presentation at the P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village was aimed at teaching people humane methods of dealing with coyotes, which are known to hunt and kill pets in Orange County and Long Beach neighborhoods.
Dasher said coyotes rarely attack humans: Last year, there were just 12 coyote bites in America.
“You’re more likely to be killed by a champagne cork or a golf ball then you are to be bitten by a coyote,” Dasher said.
One reasons for these attacks, according to Dasher, is that the coyotes have become habituated -- they have lost their fear of humans.
“The good news is we can reteach them to be afraid of people,” Dasher said.
And Dasher said the best method is hazing, defined as an activity that humanely make coyotes more afraid, recharging their natural fear of humans.
Use noisemakers, bang pots and pans, throw tennis balls, spray coyotes with squirt guns or yell, wave arms and run toward them.
“Coyote hazing changes coyote behavior,” Dasher said. “The important thing is to always do this when you see a coyote that’s not afraid of you.”
She said that people must make sure to continue the hazing and not give up even if it doesn’t work after a few moments.
The coyote’s high intelligence makes hazing effective, Dasher said. After only a few hazing incidents, most coyotes learn to stay away from humans.
In fact, Dasher joked that intelligence is one thing that separates the coyote in the Looney Tunes cartoons (the one who was constantly caught in his own traps for the Roadrunner) from real coyotes.
“That would never happen in real life,” Dasher said. “They’re actually very smart.”
Dasher also talked about the three main ways humans deal with coyote populations: exterminating them, relocating them or hazing them.
According to Dasher, killing them doesn’t work because the animals can adjust their amount of offspring produced – birthing more babies when there are less coyotes nearby – and relocating them doesn’t work because the animals try to find their way home and usually die along the way.
That’s why, she said, she supports hazing.
Attendee Paul Brestyanszky, a Huntington Beach resident, said people needed to “learn to live with coyotes.”
Of course, just because people have to live with them, doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Brestyanszky said his cat Emily was chased by a coyote that walked right onto his neighbor’s patio.
Dasher has led training workshops dealing with coyotes in more than 100 communities in the United States, according to the Humane Society.
She conducted research with the Cook County Coyote Project in Chicago, Illinois, the largest study of urban coyotes in the country and has published an analysis of coyote attacks on people in the U.S. and Canada.
Ted Stevens, acting manager of the Long Beach Animal Care Services, which serves cities such as Seal Beach, Cerritos and Rossmoor, said his agency has gotten about three to four calls a week about coyotes so far this year. The agency dealt with 160 last year.
Stevens said that he wanted to encourage residents to call animal services when they spot a coyote.
“They’re not bothering us,” Stevens said. “There helping us identify where the coyotes are.”
To report a coyote, call Long Beach animal services at 562-570-7387 or Orange County Animal Care at 714-935-6848.
Elizabeth Lambe, a Belmont Heights resident, said that the meeting was “very informative.”
“I have never seen a coyote in my neighbor; once in a while there’s one less cat though,” said Lambe during the question and answer period.
“I feel like I learned a lot,” Lambe said. “I had no idea that the best thing do with coyotes is hazing.”
Some coyote tips
- Make sure your leash is no longer than 6 feet. That way the coyote can tell the animal is with you and not walking by itself.
- Never feed the coyotes.
- Keep pets supervised when they’re outside.
- Don’t let pets or children play with coyotes.
- Never run from a coyote. It may activate their hunting instinct.
- Don’t practice hazing on a coyote that appears injured or sick. There’s no way to predict their response.
- When hazing, don’t let the animal get cornered. Always let the coyote have a way to run away.