Saratoga is a semi-rural community with trail and creek systems, along with open space in and around the City. Saratoga is surrounded by wildlife and every so often wild animals, including coyotes, are spotted in the low-land areas of the City. Urban sprawl and habitat encroachment are the main reasons behind increased wild animal sightings and challenges. The loss of open space and natural habitat has also decreased territories for wild animals to live and has disrupted predator-prey cycles.

Habituated Coyotes

Most wild coyotes fear humans. However, those that learn to associate humans with food may become habituated. Habituated coyotes now frequent suburban areas, taking advantage of abundant food, water, and shelter. Unsecured garbage, unfenced gardens, and unattended domestic animals become easy targets.

Coyote Behavior

Coyotes are nocturnal animals that resemble medium-sized dogs, have a reddish coat, and a bushy tail with a black tip. Notably, during the late spring season, female coyotes typically give birth with litter sizes of approximately 6 pups and must hunt for food to feed them. They may also exhibit more aggressive behavior if found near their den.

If you encounter a coyote, avoid direct eye contact and attempt to leave the area calmly. Do not turn your back and run from a coyote. If a coyote begins following you, make loud noises and make yourself look big. If that fails, throw rocks.

Safety Tips

The Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley offers a few tips to possibly keep coyotes uninterested in your property and keep your pets safe:
  • Secure garbage cans by fastening lids with rope, bungee cords, or chains and tying the handle to a stake driven into the ground. In addition, put garbage out the morning of pickup and not the night before.
  • Dispose of attractive food wastes such as meat, cheese, and eggs by adding a small amount of ammonia to the bag to deter coyotes.
  • Use enclosed bins rather than exposed piles when composting. Avoid adding dog or cat waste, meat, milk or eggs, and any food containing these products, to compost.
  • If you have fruit trees, pick the ripe fruit and keep fallen fruit off the ground.
  • Motion sensor outdoor lights can keep coyotes from approaching too close to your house at night.
  • Clear away bushes and dense weeds near your home where coyotes find cover and animals to feed on.
  • Do not leave pet food outside.
  • Bring pets inside when coyotes are heard or seen.
The Wildlife Center also offers solutions (PDF) for coexisting with and keeping your families safe from coyotes.

Report Coyote Issues

Residents can report aggressive coyotes to Santa Clara County's Vector Control District at 408-918-4770.