Five coyotes were euthanized in North Davis last month by USDA Wildlife Services and Animal Care officials after the agency learned that the coyotes were acting aggressively toward residents and their pets.
On June 15, responding to a request by the Wildhorse Golf Club, the department’s trapper “lethally removed” one adult and four juvenile coyotes from the golf course. Another adult coyote seen in the area has since left.
“We were requested and an agreement was signed because there had been a pattern and concern about aggression toward joggers that had pets, as well as pets in the area,” said Carol Bannerman, a spokeswoman for the USDA Wildlife Services and Animal Care.
“Our staff went on location and identified the coyotes in that specific area that did show a level of being habituated toward people and very forward in a way that you wouldn’t anticipate from a coyote.”
The only way the agency could have removed the animals from their habitat, Bannerman explained, was through “lethal removal,” as California does not allow the physical relocation of coyotes.
“It’s a sad thing,” Leith explained Wednesday. “It wasn’t a problem for the golf course. I don’t think we were worried about the golfers or anything, but it’s mostly greenbelt around there and people walking their dogs, people walking, kids being around and there are a lots of parks around there.
“It’s nothing we wanted to do … but it was a health and safety issue.”
Leith emphasized that Wildhorse always considers the welfare of the wildlife that inhabits the golf course and surrounding grounds.
“Wildhorse has been involved with Audubon International for many, many years and we do everything that we can to provide habitat on the golf course,” Leith said. “Whether it’s burrowing owls or different migrating birds — there are lots of birds of prey — we’re environmentally friendly (to all wildlife).”
And though he understands the need to exercise caution when it comes to public safety, McNerney said he wishes the county had contacted the city about the aggressive coyotes so both agencies could have collaborated on a decision.
“The city is disappointed that we were not consulted on the management decision to remove the coyotes,” McNerney said in an email to The Enterprise. “We would have preferred to find a solution that allowed the coyotes, as top predators in that habitat area, to remain. However, we understand the need of the county to respond to a public health and safety threat and resulting action to mitigate the threat.”
McNerney could recall only one similar instance several years ago when a coyote had demonstrated concerning behavior that warranted the animal’s removal. The coyote was running alongside joggers in an intimidating manner, McNerney said.
This also isn’t the first time residents in North Davis have had concerns about coyotes. Last year, residents of North Davis Farms saw several pet cats vanish. County officials suspected that the pets fell prey to local coyotes.
In 2004, the county captured and euthanized two coyotes believed to have killed and mutilated several Davis cats and rabbits.
Since the area appears to host several coyote packs, Bannerman wanted to make sure all residents understand what to do if they encounter a coyote, not only for their own safety, but also for the well-being of the animals.
“People need to recognize that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such,” Bannerman explained. “All too often what happens is that people want to get close to coyotes, they want them to be pets, they feed them either intentionally or accidentally, and coyotes then associate humans with food.
“As that relationship grows stronger and coyotes become habituated, you begin to have problems that lead to situations like this,” she continued. “They should not approach (coyotes), they should not do anything to make (them) feel comfortable around humans.”
Garbage should be put in containers, not plastic bags, because that’s one way coyotes can be fed accidentally, Bannerman said.
“People don’t think about it, but it becomes a pattern that the coyote knows that this is a food source,” she added.
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash