The call of the wild may be getting more frequent in Mill Valley, according to local readers who say they've seen an increase in coyote sightings.
One of our readers, Anne Murphy, said in an email on Friday:
"I spotted a very healthy looking coyote walking across Douglas Drive last night [at] about 8:30 p.m. Douglas Drive is a cul-de-sac off Edgewood just over the Hoemestead Valley. I lost my beloved cat to a coyote near Cowboy Rock in July and I'm afraid he is coming for my other cat or other animals in the area. Please be on the alert."
We asked our Facebook fans if they've noticed anything and they responded, saying the animals have been more active lately, and can be heard howling "at all hours of the night."
And even during the day.
One Facebook commenter said about four or five weeks ago he "saw a coyote amblin' down the sidewalk at Park and Walnut, in daylight at 10 a.m." And a few weeks ago a woman saw one on her deck, near the Dipsea steps on Marion. It was just as her daughter's two cats had busted out a screen and escaped, but thankfully the felines were unharmed.
So, is there really a surge in coyotes?
Carrie Harrington at the Marin Humane Society, which tracks wild animal calls, said reports of coyotes and moutain lions are not uncommon but she hasn't seen an increase lately. They usually breed between February and May, but can sometimes breed around this time of year as well.
"It’s possible people are seeing them and not reporting them to us," Harrington said. Residents are encouraged to call even if they think they saw something but aren't sure.
"It allows us to get a sense of where the sigings are throughout the community, and if there are any hot spots," she said.
If so, they'll increase awareness efforts in that area, and educate the public on the precautions they can take - an obvious one being to keep cats inside and walk dogs on leashes, espeicially at night when coyotes are more active.
"With coyotes, they're kind of garbage bandits, and they're opportunistic," Harrington said. So that means keeping pet food inside as well, and be sure to tightly fasten your garbage lids.
You can also elimate the dense bushes in your yard that tend to attract rodents or racoons - which in turn attract coyotes. And pick up flowers and fruits under trees."
"Don't give them a reason," Harrington said.
Basically, create an environment in your yard that doesn't attract them, and "keep our wildlife wild," by not making them feel comfortable around humans.
Have you seen or heard any coyotes in the area? Let us know in the comments.