By JACQUELINE FERNANDEZ
SILVER LAKE — Lori Ramirez knows firsthand the problems that arise when coyotes get too comfortable around humans. “I’m a hostage in my house because they’ve been in my backyard for the last 5 months,” she said of a female coyote and her young. That’s why Ramirez joined other Silver Lake residents to learn more about coyote hazing – and we’re not talking about fraternity rituals.
Coyote hazing describes the deterrents used to move animals out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. In order to keep the coyotes and humans safe, experts want us to train the animals to be fearful of people again.
The coyote hazing workshop was held a few weeks ago as sightings of the animals have grown more frequent across the neighborhood. Only a few weeks ago, an unknown assailant shot a coyote dead on a Silver Lake street.
“What we are trying to do is encourage people to be scary again, to instill that fear in coyotes,” Cathy Schoonmaker with the National Park Service told a packed room of Silver Lake residents. “In natural areas ….. coyotes are afraid of us and we want that behavior in urban coyotes.”
So how do you haze a coyote? It’s actually quite easy. Schoonmaker, along with other wildlife experts, offered up some tips:
- Make eye contact with the animal (if the animal is not injured or has pups, begin to haze)
- Be loud, be aggressive, and be exaggerated. Raise your arms/jacket above your head. Make yourself seem bigger than you are. Clap and yell – GO AWAY COYOTE!
- If you are with a pet or child, put yourself between them and the coyote. Pick up your pet or child
- Step toward the animal while being loud and aggressive. Don’t approach the animal closer than 20 feet. Continue to yell at the coyote, if it doesn’t respond slowly back away.
- Make noise with hazing tools. Metal cans with coins are great because they make a lot of noise when thrown. Pinecones also make a good hazing tool. It’s encouraged to have a fanny pack keep these tools in.
- Throw hazing tool at the coyote (you may have to throw multiple items, so be prepared). Continue hazing until the animal walks, trots or runs away.
- The instructors noted that coyotes will often stop to look at you, but this doesn’t mean the animal is unafraid. They may feel they’ve moved far enough away from danger. However, if they’re still too close, continue to haze.
After the indoor presentation, attendants were led outside where Schoonmaker acted out some mock hazing to show exactly what to do. In Denver, a coyote hazing program reportedly reduced coyote encounters by more than 75%.
“Tonight was awesome,” Ramirez said. “There has to be a happy medium and we must educate people.”
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Jacqueline Fernandez is a Los Angeles-based reporter who’s written for various media outlets such as Los Angeles Wave, The Miami Herald and WLRN-Miami Herald News.