We don’t often see them, but they're always around.
They can even be beneficial.
But when they start roaming the streets in full view during daylight hours, invading our yards and attacking our pets, it’s time to call in the experts.
Coyotes live among us in numbers that might surprise you, said Tanya Espinosa, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.
“They’re good at hiding and adapting,” she said. “They’re really good at (adapting to) urban situations.”
Humans and coyotes can peacefully coexist, and in fact, coyotes can perform a useful role in keeping rodent populations in check – but if you start seeing them in your backyard or around schools or playgrounds, it might be a good idea to report it.
Janie Britton, who lives near Morse Avenue and Hurley Way, described a recent encounter in which a pack of coyotes attacked and killed her cat. She was letting out another cat in the predawn hours last week when she heard dogs barking and saw something moving in the yard.
“I went out to find 3 adult coyotes and what appeared to be a teenager size coyote,” she said in a message through Nextdoor.com. “I ran toward them and they do not seem to be too afraid of humans, I did get them moving by yelling and clapping my hands at them.”
As they started to disperse, she saw her cat, which had been mortally wounded. She ran in the house to get a BB gun, but by the time she returned, the coyotes had carried off the cat. One of the adults remained, “standing its ground” until she started shooting at it with the BB gun.
It was the second cat Britton has lost. She doesn’t know for sure when the first one, a Maine Coon cat, fell prey to coyotes; but after she found its remains, that’s what she suspects.
“Fortunately I did not have to see or hear anything when my Maine Coon cat was killed, I only had the terrible images in my head, but seeing this actually happen before my eyes was even more horrific,” she said, adding it wasn’t just the danger to pets she was worried about. The coyotes she encountered were so aggressive she worried for small children and even adults.
Reports of wild animal problems can be made through this Sacramento County number: (916) 875-6603 (press 5 for wildlife control, which connects to the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services).
When a report is made, wildlife biologists will investigate the incidents to determine the proper course of action.
“Once coyotes start being seen in backyards with pets and little kids, we start having concerns about human health and safety,” Espinosa said.
Sometimes education is needed: basic things like not leaving pet (or any other) food outside, and not leaving small animals out alone.
But if there is an attack on a pet, child or adult, wildlife biologists will consider removing the offending animals. USDA Wildlife Services seeks a ‘balance between wildlife and people.’
“We look at removing only those animals that are an issue,” Espinosa said. “We’re not looking to remove the entire pack.”
Reports of sightings are not on the rise in Sacramento County said spokesperson Janna Haynes.
However, several residents have reported suburban coyote sightings on Nextdoor.com, including descriptions of cats killed and coyotes roaming streets in the daytime.
Although coyotes are active in the daytime, they are normally shy, reclusive creatures who don’t want to be seen, so seeing them out and about during the day in urban areas is unusual, and merits further scrutiny, Espinosa said.
“Diseases like rabies make animals act abnormally,” she said. “If you see things like that, coyotes running down the middle of the street in the middle of the day, that’s something we want to monitor.”