Domestic cats make up 20% of the coyote diet in Los Angeles

The statistic in the title surprises me and it tells the tale of the difference in cat ownership between the USA and the UK. The statistic comes from the National Park Service (NPS). Note: I have to state that the NPS probably mean domestic, stray and feral cats rather than ‘domestic cats’ as they have examined scats (droppings) to make the assessment.

Urban coyote a threat to outside domestic cats
Urban coyote a threat to outside domestic cats. Pic: in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Anecdotally the residents and pet owners of LA, from Pasadena in the north to Long Beach on the coast, say that there has been an increase in the presence of coyotes while biologist Justin Brown from the National Park Service says that the coyote population is stable i.e. neither increasing or decreasing.

Residents in Los Angeles are becoming frightened of coyotes both for their pets and for themselves. One carries a baseball bat to protect herself and her pet and the advice from the Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner is that residents walking their dog should carry an aluminium can filled with bolts and nuts to shake to make a noise which frightens coyotes.

Pat Reedy is on constant coyote watch. She is a resident of north-east Pasadena and she believes that her neighbourhood has been invaded by packs of coyotes. She carries a horn with her when she takes her dog for a walk. Once again it is a noise which can frighten them off.

The report by Steve Scauzillo on the Daily Breeze website hints at the fact that people in America or at least in this area of America understand that coyotes have been around for 7 million years and that people have been there for 50 years having settled on this resourceful wild animal’s territory.

Perhaps this is a reason why some kindhearted people feed coyotes. This encourages them to hang around and also lose their fear of humans. In general coyotes are frightened of humans but there are accounts of this fear being lost which is a worrying development.

Coyotes. Photo in public domain.

2019 has been a good year for coyotes. This is because the rain has brought on vegetation and under the circumstances they have larger litters. As surprising as the figure in the title to this article is the fact that the National Park Service statistics tell us that human pet food represents 26% of the coyote diet. The remaining elements of their diet come from rabbits, pocket gophers, ornamental fruits and insects.

It surprises me that there are people who feed coyotes bearing in mind that they represent quite a marked hazard to domestic cats and smaller dogs. I am told that coyotes in this area of the US do not feed on dogs although they do attack them. One gentleman’s son lost his miniature schnauzer to a coyote in mid-May. He found the remains of his son’s dog on a hillside half eaten. Clearly, rarely, coyotes do eat dogs.

This resident of Pasadena is building a fortified, 6 foot, wrought iron fence around his property with metal spikes and concrete footings. He is desperate to keep the coyotes out and he’s suing the city for the loss of his son’s dog and the cost of his fence at over $13,000.

Coyote diet

The Los Angeles County Agricultural Commissioner advises the following means of dealing with coyotes:

  • Make your property more difficult for coyotes to enter such as fitting rollers to the top of fences. They use the phrase “less appealing to coyotes”.
  • Don’t leave cat and dog food outside.
  • Fruit from trees which has fallen to the ground should be picked up.
  • Bird feeders should be taken in at night.
  • Mice and rats should be discouraged from occupying the property line by clearing brush.
  • Pet should not be allowed to roam freely.
  • As mentioned above, residents might carry an aluminium can with nuts and bolts inside which they can shake to scare off a coyote when they’re walking their dog.

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