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Coyotes race through Atherton

Resident reports pack chasing deer through neighborhood

"That was something," said Joni Woodside as she described watching a pack of at least three coyotes chase a deer through her Atherton neighborhood last week. "I've been on this street for 40 something years and I have never seen coyotes. It was quite frightening."

After the incident, she said she walked along Walsh Road to warn neighbors that their pets might start disappearing in an area that's home to chickens, rabbits, cats, and other small animals.

The coyotes haven't reappeared, but Ms. Woodside said she heard them howling Tuesday night.

Lt. Joe Wade of the Atherton police department said there have been no other reports of coyotes running amok to date.

Keep pets safe by bringing them inside at sunset, and don't let cats and dogs roam freely, said Mary Paglieri, a wildlife consultant and president of the Little Blue Society. She also suggested keeping chickens and other outdoor animals in sturdy cages or coops.

"Coyotes prefer their natural prey and do not actively seek out domestic animals. It is our responsibility to keep our pets out of harm's way," Ms. Paglieri said.

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Posted by Melinda Tevis
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Apr 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm

It was good of Ms Woodside to raise this issue and to alert her neighbors.
I also saw one coyote brazenly chasing a young female deer further west up the middle of Walsh Rd. last week at about 7:15 P.M. It may have been the same event but with the other coyotes having already split off the chase as part of some pack hunting strategy which they are very clever at. My sister was out walking at about the same time and saw a different moment of the chase even further west with the deer charging up the creek bed. While the coyotes have been around for years, I also have never seen them to be so openly fearless. They used to mostly haunt just the reservoir property and only be seen any where else, in an occasional glance as they vanished.
What has happened is this.
When the bobcats and foxes were squeezed out by overly fearful residents it created a territorial shift with the coyotes filling the void. The foxes and bobcats ate only rodents and berries, and were mostly harmless even to domestic pets. Bobcats will even occasionally try to mate with with domestic cats and the foxes used to hunt along side ours, hoping to steal a kill from them. While an improperly protected chicken was certainly at risk--they were both much better co-habitants than the raccoons and coyotes who have replaced them will ever be, and neither was a pack hunter. The foxes tried to make a come back a year and a half ago, but someone set out poison and so all four kits crawled up the hill to die on the privacy of my neighbors forested slope.
The answer I believe is build strong bunny hutches and sturdy chicken coops, pray that the foxes and bob cats can reclaim their territory from the coyotes and let nature balance itself back out.
By the way, I'm pretty sure that I saw the same deer the next day, so I don't think they got her on that hunt.


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