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Moreno Valley residents report dangerous run-ins with coyotes

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Moreno Valley residents report dangerous run-ins with coyotes

Picture of Dan Lee
The Press-Enterprise
Monday, March 30, 2009

Animal control officers are on the lookout for coyotes after receiving complaints about the creatures behaving aggressively in a Moreno Valley neighborhood.

Residents near the Festival at Moreno Valley shopping center, north of Highway 60, had complained that the coyotes have attacked and killed their pets, including cats, city Animal Services Division Manager Steve Fries said.

Officials are concerned because the animals might carry rabies, Fries said.

"They've gotten real close to residents," he said.

Ironwood Avenue resident Clifford Flint said the coyotes are brazen, walking through his front yard on several occasions.

Once, a coyote came to the fence at the side of the house, growled at Flint's daughter-in-law, who was riding a stationary bicycle on the other side, and jumped up on a lawnmower as if to leap over the fence, he said.

"It's the first time they've gotten aggressive," said Flint, a Moreno Valley resident for 33 years. "Either the environment is not feeding them enough or something is wrong."

As the Inland region has grown, suburban development has brought humans into more contact with the predators, from Chino and Norco to Lake Arrowhead and Palm Springs.

Coyote attacks on humans are on the rise, state Fish & Game wildlife biologist Kevin Brennan said.

Hunters killed dozens of coyotes in the Chino Hills area last year after the animals bit or threatened children near a park on seven instances, he said by phone.

There haven't been any reported problems since then, Brennan said.

But a hunter killed a coyote in the Canyon Lake area last week after a number of the animals approached children at a family barbecue and then threatened a woman walking a dog with her teenage son on the same street the following day, he said.

Development has sometimes benefited coyotes.

For example, a golf course community could provide the predators with ample food and water sources with its water hazards and household pets, Brennan said.

"They've made the coyotes' habitat better," he said.

Residents can kill coyotes if the predators are attacking livestock or pets, Brennan said.

They also can hire a pest management company to trap or hunt down the animals, he said.

In 2007, Riverside hired a Simi Valley firm to hunt and eliminate coyotes after a pet dog was attacked in a neighborhood.

In Norco, homeowners have killed the animals after they attacked livestock, while city officials have captured some of the animals using traps.

Moreno Valley animal control officers have discovered a den used by the coyotes where they have access to food and water sources, Fries said.

The city will likely hire a trapper to capture the coyotes, which will be euthanized, he said.

Moreno Valley resident Flint said he is concerned that the coyotes might eventually attack children, but he said he would rather see the coyotes relocated than killed.

"There are plenty of places they can take them," Flint said.

State law prohibits animals from being relocated, Brennan said.

"It's a euphemism for animal abandonment," he said. "They usually die at the release site because of a competition (or) a lack of food. . . . It's a cruel act."

COYOTE WATCH

Anyone who spots coyotes in

Moreno Valley should call city animal control officials at 951-413-3790.

For information on coyotes, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/education/living.html. Here are some safety tips about dealing with coyotes.

Don't feed coyotes.

Eliminate water sources.

Position bird feeders so coyotes can't get to them.

Secure garbage containers; eliminate garbage odors.

Feed pets indoors whenever possible and store food securely.

Don't allow pets to run free; provide them with secure nighttime housing.

Don't leave young children unattended outside if coyotes have been spotted in the area.

Trim shrubbery near ground level to remove any hiding places for coyotes.