While a Burbank resident described his experience with a pack of coyotes as something out of horror movie, police were on Friday warning city residents that the wily animals were increasingly coming into neighborhoods because of the state’s drought.
The dry weather has prompted an increased number of sightings of the animals, which live nearby in the Verdugo Mountains, according to the Burbank Police Department.
Nick Mendoza, whose home is in densely populated central Burbank, just a few blocks from Burbank Town Center, had two frightening experiences in a row in the last week.
His surveillance cameras caught video of several interactions with a group of coyotes, both about 3 a.m.
“I was woken up by a screaming, screaming animal being killed,” Mendoza said of the first incident. “That was the scariest thing, to hear an animal dying is a very difficult experience.”
He looked at his surveillance camera feeds and saw seven or eight coyotes running back and forth “like horses.”
Then, a couple of days later, Mendoza said he ran into a pack of at least 15 coyotes while walking his aging, 130-pound dog in the early morning.
“I started making noises at them, screaming at them, yelling at them — nothing. They would not respond. They stood their ground,” Mendoza said. “I started backing up and they started advancing.”
That’s when Mendoza got really scared, worrying he wouldn’t be able to get his dogs inside before an attack.
Then, just after he got the dog to safety, five dogs ran in front of his home, the surveillance video shows.
Mendoza threw lemons at the coyotes and chased them with a shovel, but they would not be scared away, he said. Only when he drove after them with flashing lights did they leave.
“They were hunting in a pack,” Mendoza said. “That’s very scary.”
He wanted to share his story to warn others to be on the lookout for coyotes.
In a community bulletin about the recent sighting, Burbank police noted, “Coyotes are naturally fearful of humans, but they may become less apprehensive if given easy access to human food and garbage.”
The department provided state wildlife experts’ warnings to remove outdoor sources of food and water for coyotes, include picking up fallen fruit, securing trash and compost, and putting away bird feeders at night.
Small children and pets should not be left outside unattended, police said. And pets should be brought inside at night.
Motion sensitive lights may help, and those confronted by coyotes should make loud noises or throw rocks at the animals, according to police.
“Coyotes play a key role in the ecosystem by helping to keep rodent populations under control,” the Police Departments stated. “Mindful consideration of … precautions … will create a manageable co-habitation between the city’s residents and local wildlife.”