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Drought Sends Wildlife Further into Neighborhoods

Sherrie Gibbs routinely takes her 14 year old dog Quigley out for walks in the Janin Acres subdivision in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley and is not surprised to learn that coyotes and mountain lions are roaming around her neighborhood.

“No, especially in the drought”, Gibbs says, “we moved here in 1989 in a severe drought and I actually saw coyotes coming up the middle of the road down there at the intersection in the middle of the day.”

A hand-written warning sign about coyotes being a “real and present danger” has been posted at a trail-head gate in Janin Acres not far from where a local woman’s off-leash greyhound dog was attacked and killed by a coyote while they were out for a walk.

News of the deadly coyote attack came as a surprise to some who run or walk along the trail behind Janin Acres that backs up into the Santa Ynez Mountains.

“It does, I don’t see coyotes here too much”, says Alex Pappas who just finished his daily run along the trail, “when I do see (coyotes) they are pretty skittish and tend to avoid people.”

Owners of dogs, cats and other household pets are urged to take closer care of their animals with the wandering wildlife searching for water and food closer to residential areas amid the ongoing severe drought.

“It makes sense, I mean there’s still some moisture in the river, not a lot of water, but there’s some”, Pappas says, “I can see the animals congregating there and foraging and what not.”

Wildlife experts says if you come across a coyote or mountain lion, wave your arms, make a lot of noise and try to make yourself bigger than you are but don’t try to run away.

The same experts also urge animal owners to take necessary precautions to protect their animals from these natural predators that they are neighbors with.

“Tonight when I walk I’m definitely going to keep my dog on my leash, closer to me”, Sherrie Gibbs says.

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