Residents of at least one Woodbridge neighborhood have reported seeing coyotes lately.
Two of them were actually on a residential street, they say. That prompted a warning through the subdivision’s Neighborhood Watch group to be careful about coyotes — don’t let your pets out at dusk and at night. Coyotes like pets for dinner, said Tom Karczwski, who has lived on Wilderness Way near the Mokelumne River since 1998.
“I’d say there are more coyotes, and they’re getting bolder,” said Karczwski, who’s seen coyotes on his street as recently as New Year’s Day.
Julie Ball, the Neighborhood Watch captain for the Del Rio subdivision, sent an email about the coyote sightings to Woodbridge Neighborhood Watch coordinator Mary Avanti. Avanti then forwarded the email to residents all over Woodbridge on Jan. 2.
“I saw two (coyotes) on the north end of Wilderness Way about three weeks ago,” Ball said. “This is the first time we’ve ever seen coyotes. They were just kind of walking around the neighborhood like they were familiar. They weren’t all skittish or anything.”
Karczwski said he isn’t so afraid of coyotes attacking him as he is worried about the welfare of pets in the neighborhood.
“I tell neighbors to not let their pets out at dusk or night,” he said. “They’re not aggressive with people. If a person moves, the coyotes run away.”
Ball added, “There are not a lot of cats in our neighborhood, but we have a lot of small dogs in our neighborhood. We have a couple of Chihuahuas in the area. I’m afraid for them.”
Karczwski thinks that more coyotes are in his neighborhood because there are so many wild animals, fruits and Mokelumne River water. They will kill and eat deer, opossums, turkeys, raccoons, birds and rabbits along the river.
“It’s like a buffet for them,” Karczwski said.
While Karczwski says that people need not fear coyotes, a biologist who monitors the Mokelumne River says otherwise.
“They can be a danger to people, if people start feeding them,” said James Jones, a wildlife biologist for the East Bay Municipal Utility District. “They’re not people; they’re animals — wild animals especially.”
Coyotes have attacked children in urban areas of Southern California, Jones said. One such time was in 2008, when three children in Southern California hills were attacked.
Jones said there have been a few more coyotes along the Mokelumne River, but he hasn’t seen a large increase. However, coyotes spend January reaffirming their boundaries, since the beginning of February is breeding season, he said.
Mother coyotes force their young to leave them to discourage inbreeding, so the young coyotes are more desperate for food, Jones said. Therefore, don’t leave food out for your pets.
“We’re a pretty messy species, leaving food around,” Jones said. “People in the country have learned that if they don’t want to pick up the trash in the morning they put the lid on their trash cans.”
Although he normally doesn’t see the coyotes because they are nocturnal animals, Karczwski suspects that they swim across the river from the Woodbridge Golf & Country Club.
“My house backs up to the woods. You can hear them running across the golf course.” Karczwski said. “They’re out all night.”
Karczwski said he doesn’t mind having coyotes near his home, but he wants to warn his neighbors.
“I just take it for what it is,” he said. “I moved here from Chicago, so this is like living in Alaska for me.”
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.