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Comments & Curiosities: The sound that divides

March 05, 2011|By Peter Buffa

Is it "beep beep" or "meep meep"?

The jury is still out but we'll get to that in a minute. There are coyotes in Costa Mesa.

That isn't exactly news, because there are urban coyotes in almost every city, including one called New York, which has a crew of the beasties in Central Park. Do I care about coyotes in Central Park? Let me think, no.

But in the last few months, coyotes have been strolling around the Mesa del Mar neighborhood like they were large and in-charge and chilling at TeWinkle Park. A few pets have been attacked, some of which became former pets, which is not good.

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All of that concerns me a whole lot more than what is or is not in Central Park because I happen to know someone called "me" whose grandkids live next door to TeWinkle Park and love to play there. So if there are coyotes in the mix, we need to help them relocate, like yesterday.

Fortunately, Costa Mesa animal control is on the case and they have a plan for the little beasties, as reported in this very publication. The coyotes that are hanging at TeWinkle Park didn't spring from the ground. They eased down the road, or in their case, crept down the road, from open areas like the Back Bay, the Santa Ana River and Fairview Park.

The city has hired a firm called Urban Wildlife Professionals — a self-explanatory name, no? — to set up snares on the trails and pathways that are most likely to pop up on whatever travel sites coyotes use when they're planning a trip. The snares will snag coyotes but won't harm peeps or pets.

So what motivates coyotes to pack their bags and strike out for parts unknown? Two things: predators and/or food. I can relate to the second one — very high on my list. But urban areas are weak on the predator part, which leaves city coyotes free to do whatever it is they do, which, frankly I don't need to know about. There are things that prey on coyotes in the wild, but anything that plans to get in a coyote's face better be big and mean and weigh more than I do, which is not easy.

So that leaves food. OK fine, but what do coyotes eat? It isn't complicated: anything, everything, plus whatever doesn't fit into either of those categories. Whatever traits coyotes have, discriminating taste isn't one of them. When the food in their usual 'hood dries up, heading for the nearest housing area is a bold move, but it's the mother lode. There are pet food dishes left out on patios everywhere and garbage cans as far as the eye can see.

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