Oxnard to give coyotes an earful
City plans to issue 112-decibel horns to River Ridge residents
By Charles Levin, clevin@VenturaCountyStar.com
March 21, 2007
Oxnard's code compliance manager has purchased 1,000 hand-held boat horns to help residents scare off coyotes and other stray animals.
Dirk Voss said he bought the horns early last month after residents in the city's River Ridge neighborhood complained that coyotes likely killed several domestic pets.
At least three cats disappeared from the neighborhood around November. Residents at the time reported hearing packs of coyotes yipping at night, while sightings of the animals and their droppings at the nearby River Ridge Golf Course grew more frequent.
Experts blame dry weather for a sudden uptick in urban sightings of coyotes, including parts of Los Angeles.
In Oxnard, the coyotes migrated from the Santa Clara River — a well-worn wildlife corridor — to the golf course and adjoining neighborhoods in search of food.
Coyotes, or Canis latrans, normally dine on rodents, squirrels and rabbits. But around Oxnard's cul-de-sacs, pet food left on backyard patios and small domestic animals keep the wily critters coming back.
Experts have urged residents to avoid leaving food or pets outside. State Department of Fish and Wildlife officials will not trap coyotes unless they pose a threat to public safety. If they do, the animals must be released in the same area or destroyed.
Voss decided to pursue the horns as part of a comprehensive approach that includes public education.
"The taxpayers don't want us to say, ‘It's not our job,' " Voss said of buying the horns. "They want us to come up with something."
Residents also can use the horns to scare off stray dogs or feral cats, Voss said, adding that the city gets calls on them as well.
"We want to get beyond the coyote," Voss said. "Citywide, we have other issues in town ... related to personal safety."
Planning to distribute horns
The city spent $5,942 for the aerosol-powered devices. The Falcon SuperSound Horn stands 4 1/2 inches tall but packs an ear-scalding 112 decibels. By comparison, a chain saw delivers 110 decibels, according to the state's Department of Industrial Relations.
The horn can be heard up to a half-mile away over land and a mile on water, according to the company's Web site. Recommended uses include signaling boats or personal protection.
Voss said he's still working out details for issuing horns, which will be free. Residents would likely call a special phone number, schedule an interview with a code compliance officer and get training on using the horn, Voss said. He hopes to unveil the program before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.
The noisemaker idea came from a brainstorming session with state Fish and Game officials who outlined several ways to deal with the coyote problem.
Experts offered mixed reactions to the idea, partly because no one knows if it will work.
"No one has systematically studied trends on coyotes," said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist with the National Park Service. "We've wanted to do it for a number of years but were never able to get funding."
Riley said it is worth a try.
"The more comfortable they are with people, the less likely they are to be scared off," he said.
Chris Long, supervising warden for Fish and Game's Ventura office, agreed. "It should be effective short-term; I don't know about long-term," Long said, adding that coyotes become comfortable with scare tactics over time.
‘Good luck to Oxnard'
Kathy Jenks, director of Ventura County's Animal Regulation Department, is skeptical.
"Good luck to Oxnard with it," Jenks said. "I never heard that any coyotes came close enough to anybody to make a difference."
The horns will scare off stray dogs and wild birds, but "feral cats don't come anywhere near people," Jenks said.
Joe Avelar, a retired Oxnard code enforcement officer, speculated that the idea will backfire and cause more problems.
"It's good PR, but it's bad PR," said Avelar, chairman of the city's Inter-Neighborhood Council Forum. "People will get the horns. You're going to have disturbing-the-peace problems everywhere."
Bruce Holden, president of the River Ridge Homeowners Association, disagreed.
"I think if that happened, it would probably stop in short order," Holden said. "People would get annoyed, find out who's doing it and put a stop to it.
"I think it's worth a try."
Asked to respond to skeptics, Voss said, "If one person uses the horn and it deters a dog, a coyote or personal attack, then that was a successful program."
For now, however, it seems the coyotes have moved on. River Ridge Golf Club Manager Otto Kanny said he's hasn't seen one in a month. He chalked that up to homeowners keeping pets and their food indoors.
"Not that they're going away anytime soon," Kanny said. "They'll be here with the cockroaches, long after we're gone."
"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person"
- Fred Bear
Air horns...lol. These people are clowns. I'm sure they will soon be complaining about getting woke up at midnight from somebody blasting their horn, I know it would piss me off. Easy problem to solve; move out of the coyotes backyard or keep your pets indoors. I've lived out here most my life, any cats we had would eventually end up missing. Coyotes love em.
I saw/heard the report on a local news station last night. I just find it quite hilarious to be honest.
When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first." Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), "Winner Take Nothing"
“Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians - except for the occasional mountain lion steak." -Ted Nugent
Did anyone brainstorm about how ridiculous this sounds before they put it out there? I swear the libs are out of control.
"To disarm the people (is) the best and most effectual way to enslave them." -- George Mason
Isn't that noise pollution?
I think we need to have an anger management counselling session with the coyotes so they can express their feelings on urban-sprawl and deal with their resulting "food issues" in a non-judgemental and supportive manner.
AIR HORNS! High-larious!
More reason for me to move from this God forsaken place. I moved to Oxnard cause the price of housing in Santa Barbara where I was born and raised its ridiculous. I swear what a world of difference. I just cant stand this city and cant wait to move to San Diego soon. The mentality here would blow you away. Well enough with that venting. Ya the morons built the new homes in a river bed which is feed from the near by mountains. Perfect yote territory. Not to mention I hope they have good flood insurance.
“If we quit when we’re in the valley, we’ll never experience the view from the mountain top.”