Coyotes are present in Culver City and throughout Southern California. Although they generally avoid human contact, coyotes are wild animals. Coyotes have killed unattended small pets in Culver City. The City monitors residents’ reports of coyote behavior in consultation with wildlife experts, and the City will take appropriate action to protect human safety. It is especially important that the City be notified of any aggressive coyote behavior towards humans.
Culver City Coyote Study and Management Program
The first year of the multi-year study includes in its suite of activities a review and assessment the City's existing data relating to coyote distribution and activity. Dr. Strauss's team has developed an online data visualization tool to depict a collection of community sightings and encounters with coyotes our area from 2013 to the present. The public is invited to view the online mapping tool.
Reporting Coyote Sightings or Activity
If you are in immediate danger, or fear for your safety or the safety of others, dial 9-1-1.
Be your neighborhood's eyes and ears and help maintain a safe community by immediately reporting any coyote presence or activity to the City:
- Dedicated Coyote Hotline: (310) 253-6141
- Email Animal Services
- Online coyote reporting form
- All reports should include both location, date and time of the activity, and any direct witness observations.
Understanding Coyotes in Culver City
In recent years, Culver City, along with other Southern California cities, has begun to experience an increase in the amount of coyote encounters. These encounters include numerous attacks on pets that were off leash, unattended in residential backyards, and an upsurge in sightings in areas populated by people.
Historically, coyotes have existed in and around Culver City, finding safe haven in areas including the Oil Fields backing Blair Hills, the Culver City Park and the Culver City Crest Neighborhood. Additionally, other areas within the City where dense brush is prevalent (hill sides, areas in and around the Ballona creek, etc.) also provide spots where coyotes can safely build dens and reproduce. It is also believed that the prolonged drought has limited potential food sources for the coyotes and thus drawn the coyotes to residential neighborhoods in search of food and water.
In general, coyotes regularly roam an area of about 2-5 square miles or whatever it takes to get enough food for the pack members. Normally, each coyote family group is a territorial and varies in number from 3 to 10 individuals. Coyotes are opportunistic, versatile carnivores that primarily eat small mammals, such as rabbits, ground squirrels, and mice. Coyotes tend to prefer fresh meat, but will eat significant amounts of fruits and vegetables during the autumn and winter months when their prey is scarce. Part of the coyotes’ success as a species is its dietary adaptability. This dietary flexibility, coupled with a lack of prey and closer proximity to residents, has led the coyotes to seek alternative food sources, including small pets, pet food, and fallen fruits and vegetables found in the backyards of homes.
About Culver City Animal Services
The mission of Culver City Animal Services is to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the Culver City residents and animals through effective and courteous enforcement and education of the Culver City Municipal Codes, Los Angeles County Codes, California Code of Regulations Title 14 and state laws. Culver City Animal Services encourages the healthy retraining of the public and of the natural wildlife.
The City of Culver City has developed a comprehensive Coyote Management Plan. The City has established new reporting mechanisms that will ensure a swift response to any aggressive coyote behaviors towards humans. The City will be placing permanent coyote warning signs in parks. We are investigating the possibility of adding additional animal control staff. Finally, the City will participate in an upcoming field study which will help us learn more about coyote behavior.
Click/tap the image below to view the City's coyote behavior and response chart:
Coyotes are usually wary of people and will avoid us whenever possible. Bold behavior is unusual and is most often a result of habituation due to intentional or unintentional feeding, the presence of a dog or cat, or the coyote defending a den and young. The abundance of food, water and shelter offered by urban landscapes can lead to conflicts.
There are preventative measures that both residents and businesses can take to reduce the presence of coyotes in our community:
- Show your pets you love them by never leaving them unattended outdoors.
- Do not leave small children unattended outdoors.
- Do not feed or leave out food for local wildlife (ie., raccoons, opossum, outdoor cats)
- Keep your property clear of fruit droppings and secure refuse containers
- Cover and/or seal off any outside water sources
- Clean up messy bird feeders or spilled birdseed
- Clean up, cover and/or seal off compost piles
- Secure or store garbage bins in enclosed structures or securely strap down lids
- Cats should be kept indoors at all times and dogs should be walked on a leash, not exceeding six feet in length
- Block "crawl space" access under decks, houses, storage sheds and containers
- Consider using motion lights when possible to alert you to activity outdoors
Coyote hazing simply means scaring a coyote away from you, your yard, or your neighborhood. Coyotes are members of the dog family--just as we train our dogs to adopt good behavior, we can reinforce a coyote’s natural instinct to avoid people without harming them. Hazing involves asserting yourself by reacting to the inappropriate presence of a coyote so that it is frightened or startled and leaves the area.
The following information on hazing is very similar to what the L.A. Sheriff's Department, City of L.A. Department of Animal Services, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have shared on their websites and social media sites:
- Yelling and waving arms
- Responding aggressively
- Banging pots and pans
- Using squirt guns or garden hoses
- Throwing tennis balls or rocks
- Utilizing whistles or air horns
- Stand your ground. Make eye contact and do not run away. Advance toward the coyote with your hazing tools (such as pans, water squirt gun, umbrella, can with coins) if there is hesitation on the part of the coyote.
- Make sure the coyote is focused on you as the source of danger or discomfort. Do not haze from buildings or your car where the coyote can’t see you clearly.
- Make it multisensory. Use tools that scare with sound, light and/or motion.
- Variety is essential. Coyotes can learn to recognize and avoid individual people, so the more often a coyote has a negative experience with various hazing tool and different people, the faster he will change his behavior to avoid human contact.
- Hazing should be exaggerated, assertive, and consistent. Communities should always maintain some level of hazing using a variety of tools so that the coyotes do not return to unacceptable behavior over time.
Wildlife Watch is a partnership program in which the community and city departments work to establish a comprehensive and integrated management strategy for minimizing human-wildlife conflicts and improving the quality of life in urban settings. Residents are participating in Wildlife Watch in order to reduce the number of coyote encounters and keep neighborhoods safe. Email Leon Lopez to join the Wildlife Watch program.