Coyote in park outfoxes officials

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! PICO RIVERA – Lillian Castillo has seen coyotes in the mountains but never in her neighborhood – until last week. “I was coming home from Hollywood late at night and I saw a coyote with two pups crossing the street,” Castillo, 20, said. “I was kind of weirded out.” What is likely the same coyote has been making regular appearances in the picnic area at Streamland Park, near Castillo’s neighborhood, county parks and area animal control officials said. The coyote regularly appears in the picnic area at about 11 a.m., said Hector Alvarado, a Los Angeles County Parks and Recreation Department maintenance worker. “She goes by the picnic table,” he said. This week, Southeast Area Animal Control Authority officials launched a hunt for the coyote after receiving calls from concerned parkgoers. On Thursday, SEAACA officials posted warning signs and set out a trap baited with roasted chicken. But as of Thursday evening, the coyote had not been caught. The nearest natural coyote habitat is Whittier Narrows. So why would a coyote venture into a public park crowded with humans, a species the shy animals usually try to avoid? “Coyotes are truly opportunistic. They will go for the easiest food first,” said Mickey Long, the natural areas administrator for the county parks department. Uncovered garbage cans and scraps left over from people eating lunch at the park spell easy food, said Cpt. Aaron Reyes of SEAACA. “She’s smart. She’s just trying to survive,” he said. Animal control Officer Stephanie Hingson searched the northwest side of the park Wednesday morning and caught a few glimpses of the gray, medium-sized coyote. When Hingson lost track of her, she set out hot dogs to attract the critter. “She was sniffing around, probably looking for something to eat,” Hingson said. Later, Officer Alvaro Torres and Reyes, carrying a catch pole and a tranquilizer gun, walked through the area trying to track the animal. Although they believe they might have found a den and paw prints, the coyote eluded them. “She probably knows this area better than any of us,” Reyes said, adding that officials will have to capture the coyote and her pups, then relocate the entire family to Whittier Narrows, a few miles away. Coyotes roam many miles during the night, so even if officials manage to capture the mother coyote, she could easily find her way back to the park, said Long. The animal’s diet consists mostly of rodents, such as squirrels and rabbits, he added. “I don’t know if she’s having trouble with the cooler weather. Certain things \ are hibernating,” Long said. “Ground squirrels are underground more. If she’s feeding pups, she might be particularly desperate.” Coyotes are not likely to bite a human, he said. “We humans have trouble seeing ourselves as pushing into their habitat, but we are,” said Long. “It’s our job as humans to learn to be around them.” Though SEAACA officials hope to catch and relocate the coyote soon, they issued a warning to residents. “Stay away from it and don’t feed it,” Reyes said. “Then notify SEAACA. We’ll respond immediately.” If you spot a coyote, call SEAACA at (562) 803-3301, Ext. 223. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026last_img read more