Bakersfield residents dealing with new neighbors: coyotes

A coyote is seen in the neighborhood next to Centennial Park in Bakersfield, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

Bakersfield resident Andrea Luna wasn’t quite sure what she was staring at.

Luna has lived in the neighborhood next to Centennial Park for many years, but she had never seen an animal quite like this.

According to her accounts, the animal resembled a kit fox or possibly a dog. She would later find out that her cryptic new neighbor was a coyote.

The neighborhood’s unexpected guest is only half of Luna’s story.

Her frustrations first began with the Centennial Corridor project. Her area was one of the neighborhoods heavily impacted by the transportation project. Crews cleared out homes and left spans of empty space pocketed throughout the area.

To add insult to injury, her home sits right next to those open spaces. On one side of her home, she’s surrounded by houses. On the other, she’s situated among construction equipment, barricades, road construction signs, and now coyotes.

“I can’t be out. We can’t have our little dogs out,” Luna said. “Our neighbors who like to walk around can’t be around here, but where did it come from?”

Wildlife biologist Dan Fidler of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the drastic change in landscape might be the reason the coyotes are hanging around. Fidler said the area resembles a habitat type that coyotes are drawn to.

Fidler said that while some animals would seek refuge somewhere else, coyotes are attracted to an area like this because of the differentiation in landscape.

“This becomes more coyote habitat, right? So they work those edges,” Fidler said. “They look for the trash that’s in the corners … the Wendy’s containers, the bags of apples that are laying around. They take advantage of those resources.”

Fidler said the project isn’t the only contributing factor to the coyotes’ overdue stay. He said residents need to do a better job at keeping the area tidy and clean. He said he spotted remnants of trash around the neighborhood and said that only makes this situation worse.

He added that construction will always be an inherent part of our process as areas continue to grow and develop, and learning to live with it is imperative.

Another representative of the department, Peter Tira, said he received calls daily about pets getting snatched by coyotes.

“They are very smart, very opportunistic,” Tira said. “They will eat domestic pets, typically small dogs and cats, but even medium-sized dogs.”

Tira advises residents to narrow in on what’s enticing the coyote and eliminate it. He said a coyote should never be in an area for too long else something is very wrong, and the Department of Fish and Wildlife needs to be contacted.

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