Following stories about a coyote attack on a dog in Danville, reported by regional news outlets such as ABC7 and KRON4, as well as other concerns expressed by residents about coyotes, the town's chief of police took to Facebook to address concerns in a weekly podcast last week.
Danville Police Chief Allan Shields concluded his Sept. 29 livestream with an informational report addressing concerns about coyotes in the area that escalated recently, with numerous reports from regional news outlets on residents who suspected losing their dogs to coyote attacks, based on camera footage.
Shields noted that, unless there is an incident where a coyote attacks a human, police do not get involved, instead referring complaints to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The policy of DFH, additionally, is to leave coyotes alone as much as possible, from a conservation angle.
It also means that there is no official recourse when a pet is lost in a coyote attack, putting the responsibility for pet safety even more squarely on the shoulders of their owners.
To contend with this, Shields provided a number of recommendations for “coyote-proofing” one’s yard, with the goal of keeping dogs in particular, who might spend time alone outside, safe from coyote encounters. Some of these include “coyote rollers”, digging deterrents such as spikes, and roofed, outdoor kennels.
Absent these precautions, Shields noted that it was not recommended to leave dogs alone outside.
In addition to worries about pet safety, Danville residents had expressed concerns that coyote sightings were becoming commonplace, and worried that the animals were harder to deter, having become more acclimated to humans.
Shields discussed coyote “hazing” techniques aimed at addressing this by intentionally frightening the animals without harming them. Loud noises, threatening motions, and projectiles aimed in the direction of coyotes (though not directly at them), are all recommended methods of coyote “hazing” by the Humane Society that everyday citizens can employ. Some effective tools for this are bullhorns, whistles, water guns and hoses.
“Anything that is going to make them back off and fear you,” Shields said.
One form of deterrent Shields said to avoid, however, was cap guns, or anything closely resembling a firearm. This is in part, he said, because there are more effective noisemakers. However, he also expressed concerns, as police chief, that the use of cap or pellet guns could result in fear and confusion for residents, thinking they are seeing someone with a firearm, as well as police.
“What I would not want to do is introduce what sounds like a gunshot, with what might look like a starter pistol, a gun of some sort, in an area that’s not controlled, so that maybe a witness sees it and says ‘hey, I think I just saw someone shoot a gun,’” Shields said. “We want to avoid that at all costs.”
In general, coyotes should be discouraged from interacting with humans and entering public spaces, even if they aren’t posing a threat. Shields pointed to the plain difference in the behavior of wild animals who are in the wilderness, compared to those who are accustomed to human interaction.
“What I found out through doing the reading is that coyotes are naturally afraid of humans, they want to stay away, but the more they come into urban areas and suburban areas, they will think that humans are more approachable,” Shields said.
Full video of Shields’ podcast from Sept. 29 is available via the Danville Police Department’s Facebook page, along with videos from other weeks. Shields discussed fraud and fraud protection in the latest installment on Oct. 6.