Coyotes teach pups to hunt in the ‘hood

When Robin Moruzzi let her miniature poodle out early one morning, she had no idea what was in store. She said she heard a strange noise in the yard, just for a minute, and then nothing. “I was instantly scared. I ran outside and whistled for him, but he was gone without a trace.”

It was a morning ritual for the 9-year-old dog, and he hadn’t been out more than five minutes, Moruzzi said. “He was a savvy street poodle. From what I heard that morning, I don’t think he was even aware of what hit him. It sounded like a dog fight, but just for a few seconds, a loud growl. I never heard him yelp or anything.”

A resident of Paradise Cove, Moruzzi said she had heard about coyotes taking small animals but didn’t think there were any nearby. “I had never seen one, and I walk late in the day and early in the morning. It never crossed my mind.”

But the upper level of the park near the edge of the bluff is close to a deep ravine where coyotes den.

In hillside neighborhoods, where coyotes have always been heard howling at night, residents say they are getting bolder and are frequently seen lurking around houses in broad daylight.

Bruce Richards, shelter manager at Agoura Hills, says it’s cyclical. In summer, the pups are traveling with the mother and learning to hunt. “It’s a big banquet for them out there and easier than catching wild animals,” he said. “A 40-pound coyote can pick up a small dog and jump over a five-foot fence with it.”

But we shouldn’t be looking to trap coyotes because they play a good role in the ecology, eating rodents and even snakes. “If we want to live in wild areas, we have to live with them,” he said.

To protect pets from attack:

  • Bring cats and small dogs indoors at night.
  • Keep trash cans covered with lids tied on and don’t put them out until pickup day.
  • Don’t put pets’ food and water outside until late morning, if possible, or place in a garage or shed.
The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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