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LHPD finalizes coyote plan

Residents advised to keep a close eye on pets.

By Rachel Rohm
La Habra Journal

Due to the steady presence and danger posed by the animals, La Habra police have now finalized their coyote management plan in order to prevent and address coyote attacks.

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Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, and unlike dogs, who might harm for play or defense, coyotes are looking for food. The city of La Habra is currently at “Sighting Level Green”, meaning that coyotes have been seen moving in the area but are not entering places frequented by people.
In other words, residents are seeing coyotes, but have not had interactions with them. Most sighting reports are from the area in and around Osornio park, as well as the pocket behind it along Creek Lane.
“The Coyote Management Plan really mandates community involvement,” said Cindy Knapp, bureau manager of the La Habra Police Department.
As part of the management plan, the police department is taking every opportunity to educate the public about coyotes. They even include this information in the papers they give to pet owners who are renewing their pet licenses.
Within the information given out with dog and cat license renewals, the La Habra Police Department warns dog owners to walk outside with dogs on a leash less than six feet in length, secure them safely when outdoors, feed them indoors, keep the yard free of overgrown shrubbery and discourage coyotes from repeated visits by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks.
If a dog must be kept outside on its own, be sure to have the bottom of the kennel enclosed as well to prevent coyotes from digging under the dog’s cage. Cat owners are advised to keep cats indoors at all times.
All residents should keep trash secured, bagging attractive food waste before placing it in the bin. They should also keep their yards free of fallen fruit and excess birdseed. Coyotes travel along creek beds and usually try to stay as far away from humans as possible. However, if they find a residence with a food supply, they will keep returning to that area as their hunting ground.
“If we can’t reduce the attractants and work together to address the problem, we’re going to continue to have coyotes coming here,” Knapp said.
The police department has no record of a coyote attacking a human for at least the last 25 years. In the past few months, two pet dogs have been killed by coyotes.
One dog was killed at night, which makes sense because coyotes typically hunt in the early morning hours. The other dog was killed in the middle of the day, when no one was home and the dog was left unsecured in the yard. Fenced yards are not necessarily a guard against coyotes with the ability to climb, Knapp warned.
Coyotes are most active at night and in early morning hours, which is when they hunt. Because spring is breeding season, residents can expect to see more coyotes traveling together.
If residents see coyotes lurking about where they should not be, especially where there are pets nearby, they should call 562-383-4357 to report the coyote sighting.
Authorities will not trap coyotes or remove them from their habitat, but residents and police personnel can deter them from residential areas. Residents can report aggressive coyotes to the South Coast Region of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 858-467-4201.
Knapp said that they are working to have a balance. “We want to try to have a nice cooperative relationship with them so that our urban wildlife is maintained but that we also protect our pets.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.