With recent reports of and all seeming to enjoy the suburban life of Laguna Niguel, it's a good time for residents to do a little "spring cleaning" to make their homes less attractive to these wild animals.
Keeping these and many other species away is as easy as never feeding wildlife, making sure that all trash and compost are tightly sealed, and picking up fallen fruit. Swimming pools can attract thirsty animals, so keep pools covered when they are not in use.
Keeping bushes trimmed and grass short eliminates potential resting or hiding spots. And turning on outdoor lights or a radio can keep animals from coming any closer. Placing ammonia-soaked rags in dens or other places where animals have taken up residence will encourage them to leave. Keeping things tidy outdoors by moving wood piles and barbecues away from buildings and removing debris will also keep rodents, a major food source for coyotes and bobcats, away. If wild animals find your yard unappealing, they will move on.
If they are hungry enough, wild animals may also prey on cats and dogs. Animal guardians should keep animals safe indoors and stay with them at all times when they do go outdoors. Walk dogs on short leashes. The smell of dog and cat food can attract wild animals, so it's best to keep it indoors.
Eliminating potential sources of food, water, and shelter is a better wildlife deterrent than hunting or trapping programs. As a pointed out, "In spite of being hunted and trapped for more than 200 years, more coyotes exist today than when the U.S. Constitution was signed." After animals are hunted and killed, more animals move into the area, the remaining animals breed to replace pack members who have been killed, and cities end up with an endless, expensive kill cycle. "Leg-hold" traps (even ones that are padded) and snares mutilate animals' legs or paws, often cutting down to the bone, and frequently kill or injure nontarget animals like cats and dogs. Such harsh methods are not needed. With a little "spring cleaning," Laguna Niguel can be safe and enjoyable for residents and their animal companions.
Michelle Sherrow is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510; PETA.org.