Some residents of the northern area of Fontana have become increasingly concerned about coyotes prowling in local neighborhoods, threatening and sometimes attacking small dogs and cats -- and even confronting humans.
With coyote season now under way, representatives of the Fontana Police Department and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife held a special meeting at Koehler Park on June 30 to discuss the situation.
"We’ve received several calls regarding an increase of coyote sightings in Fontana," said a message on the Fontana P.D. Facebook page. "Over the past three years we averaged approximately 150 calls related to coyote sightings. During this coyote season, we saw an increase of calls in the north end of Fontana, possibly due to the newer homes being built, thereby giving the coyotes less areas to conceal themselves from public view."
During the meeting, authorities informed the attendees about how to "haze," or scare away, the coyotes, which are primarily nocturnal but can be observed roaming during the daytime.
"We often advise residents/pet owners to bring in their pets after the sun goes down, especially small breed dogs and cats," police said.
In addition, residents can help by keeping parks and neighborhoods clean, making sure all unused food is put in trash containers where the coyotes cannot reach it. If coyotes cannot find food, they will eventually retreat out of the area, Fish and Wildlife personnel said.
The Fontana Animal Services Team (FAST) does not trap coyotes, but does respond to the following types of coyote calls: removing deceased coyotes in the roadway, following up on reports of coyotes observed in the daytime near or in a residential area or school zones, or dealing with injured coyotes.
FAST members haze coyotes but do not capture or relocate them. It is a felony animal cruelty offense for a person to intentionally cause injury or bodily harm to any animal.
The San Bernardino County Animal Control Department has a contract with Animal Pest Management for removal of problem coyotes, for which the owners of the pets or livestock can have the coyotes trapped if deemed necessary. The phone number for San Bernardino County Animal Control is 1-800-472-5609.
Residents who observe coyotes acting aggressively toward humans or making human contact should report this to the Fontana P.D. dispatch so that the agency will respond.
----- COYOTE HAZING TECHNIQUES were provided by the Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Q: What is hazing?
A: Hazing is a process designed to scare wild animals away and to instill in them a fear of humans. This is done for both public safety and the wellbeing of the animal. Wild animals that get too comfortable around humans can become dangerous and must be killed.
Q: What should I do if I encounter a coyote?
A: First, immediately pick up children and pets. Then implement the hazing strategies introduced below. Once you start hazing do not stop until the coyote has left the area. Never turn your back or run from a coyote.
Q: When should I haze a coyote?
A: Anytime you are confronted by one. Consistency is important. Everyone in the community must work together to make coyotes feel unwelcome in urban settings.
Q: When should I not haze a coyote?
A: Do not haze a coyote if it is cornered, injured or has pups. In the event you encounter a coyote under these circumstances, maintain eye contact with the coyote and slowly back away.
Q: How do I haze a coyote?
A: There are a variety of hazing strategies:
• Make yourself as large as possible. Stand up straight and wave your arms over your head.
• Make loud noises. Scream, yell or whistle.
• Be forceful and direct your voice at the coyote.
• Be animated.
• Throw rocks, sticks, anything you can pick up.
• Take steps toward the coyote. Be aggressive.
• Always look directly at the coyote. Never turn your back to it or run away.
• When walking, carry an item like a stick, golf club, water gun or air horn.