Coyote seen in Windansea area chasing and attacking stray cat
Resident urges neighbors to be careful with their small pets after the rare sighting near the beach.
Coyotes are continuing to explore La Jolla, even getting to within five houses of Windansea Beach.
Laura Forest, who lives on Gravilla Street near the beach, said she was awakened earlier this month by the sound of a cat “being attacked and what sounded like a dog” in her backyard at around 4 a.m.
“We get raccoons and things in the neighborhood, so I got up and made some noise to try and scare it away,” she said. “I saw that a cat was hurt but alive, so I went back inside and got a flashlight. When I came back out, the cat was gone.”
Forest reviewed footage from security cameras at her home to see what had happened in her yard.
“I saw that a coyote jumped over my fence to chase a cat, then it climbed a tree to catch up to the cat and brought it down,” she said. “I must have scared it off because it was soon gone.”
This was the first time Forest had ever seen a coyote in the Windansea area, but she assumes it won’t be the last.
“We have lots of stray cats on the street, and a lot of people have small pets that they let out at night,” she said. “So I’m worried for those people that have those pets. … They need to be careful.”
Wildlife experts advise residents to take steps to protect their small pets and avoid attracting coyotes to their property.
Gravilla Street isn’t far from the La Jolla Bike Path, where coyotes also have been seen.
Jim McCaughan, a state-licensed wildlife trapper, previously told the La Jolla Light that coyotes may expand into new territories to find prey, which often consists of rats, snakes and mice, but that “small pets are on the menu” as well.
“They hunt in an area, and when they deplete that area of prey, they go to another area,” McCaughan said. Thus, he advises not leaving small animals outside in a place where there are coyote sightings.
“Coyotes are excellent urban adapters … [and] they are also attracted to the abundance of other urban adapters, like the California ground squirrel,” said Scott Tremor, a San Diego Natural History Museum mammalogist. “They also are attracted to our trash as they forage within our refuse.”
Most urban sightings are near canyons, Tremor said. However, “when densities are high and closed off by streets or homes, they can be found moving through the urban matrix.”
The type of coyote (Canis latrans) seen in La Jolla is found across the San Diego region, he said.
“A lot of people have small pets that they let out at night. So I’m worried for those people that have those pets. … They need to be careful.”
— Windansea resident Laura Forest
In May, sightings started being reported near La Jolla’s Bird Rock Elementary and Muirlands Middle schools, near the bike path and in other areas, even during the daytime, when coyotes typically aren’t seen. Commenters on social media reported a coyote in front of Bird Rock Elementary and a pack of them spotted multiple times in April and May near Fire Station 13 on Nautilus Street.
To try to keep coyotes away, “do not leave food or water sources outside,” McCaughan said. Dog doors should be lockable, he added.
He advises having motion-activated lights on one’s property to scare coyotes away and using an air horn to drive them away when they are seen. In extreme cases, he recommends sprinkling adult male urine around the property.
“Coyotes are afraid of alpha males and adult males, so if they think there is one on the property, they might stay away,” McCaughan said. ◆
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