DEL MAR — While hazing is considered unacceptable for fraternity initiations, it is the preferred method to deter brazen coyotes who wander into residential backyards.
In fact, this deterrence technique was highly recommended in a Del Mar neighborhood alert issued after someone called the city to report that a pet had been the victim of a coyote attack. The caller wanted to know what Del Mar was doing to prevent such occurrences.
“We put out some reminders to raise awareness,” Assistant City Manager Kristen Crane said. “I’m not aware of multiple reports or any specific sightings.”
According to The Humane Society of the United States, coyotes generally avoid human contact. However, some have adapted to urban and suburban environments and, sensing no real threat, may approach humans or feel safe entering yards even when people are present.
Breakfast, lunch or dinner are usually the main attractions.
The presence of a free buffet in the form of pet food or garbage can lure coyotes into suburban yards and create the impression that backyards are bountiful feeding areas. And a coyote who finds food in one yard may learn to search for it in others.
The boldness of these animals should not be tolerated, the Humane Society warns. One way to dampen this bold behavior is hazing, which includes a variety of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity.
The practice can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and keep them out of backyards and play spaces.
To ensure coyotes don’t get used to redundant or single-stimulus devices, sounds and actions, use a variety of different “hazing tools,” such as yelling and arm-waving while approaching the animal.
Noisemakers can include anything from a voice, whistles, air horns and bells to “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies and pots, lids or pie pans banged together.
Projectiles such as sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls can also be used, but thrown toward the animal, not at it. Hoses, water guns or spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent are also acceptable hazing tools.
According to the Humane Society, the easiest way to haze a coyote is by being loud and large.
Stand tall, wave your arms and yell, approaching the animal if necessary, until it runs away.
A coyote that has never been hazed may not immediately go away. If this happens walk toward the coyote and increase the intensity of hazing.
The animal may start to leave, but then stop after a distance and look back. It is important to continue to go after the coyote until it completely leaves the area. Try different tactics, such as noisemakers, foot-stomping or spraying the coyote with a hose.
Carrying hazing tools such as a whistle, a squirt gun or projectile objects while walking your dog is also recommended.
The Humane Society also recommends hazing a lone coyote by a variety of people using a several different tools and techniques.
Additionally, the animal must be able to recognize the potential threat is coming from a person. So, hiding behind a bush and throwing rocks or hazing from inside a car isn’t effective.
There is usually a dominant animal in the group that will respond, and others will follow its lead. After a coyote has been successfully hazed, it may return. Continue the practice. It usually takes only one or two times to haze the animal away permanently.
And importantly, never run away from a coyote.