Don’t feed the coyotes.

What might seem like obvious advice is apparently not being heeded by some visitors and residents living near the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County.

“We have found evidence of coyotes being fed on the nearby properties or at the edge of the properties, and we’ve had reports and seen coyotes actually approach humans,” said Melissa Borde, an environmental scientist and reserve manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Flyers have been posted warning visitors of increased “coyote activity” at the popular 1300-acre coastal wetlands area between Huntington Beach and Seal Beach.

So far, no attacks have been reported but Borde is concerned that if people don’t change their behavior, it is just a matter of time.

“Coyotes should be foraging. They should be hunting. They should have a natural fear of humans” she said. “When the coyote becomes habituated … it can become a human or pet safety risk.”

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve Coyotes
Flyers have been posted warning people of increased “coyote activity” at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County, California. Nov. 8, 2023.

Visitors are urged to keep children close, keep pets leashed at all times, and stay in groups. If a coyote approaches you, managers say you should stay calm, face the coyote, make noise, and try to look bigger.

Do not try to run, they say.

If a coyote becomes too comfortable around humans wildlife managers might have no choice but to euthanize it, which is why, Borde says, feeding wildlife is against the law.

“It’s considered harassment of wildlife [by] altering their natural behavior.”