Updated April 2013
California's "Keep Me Wild" Campaign
Many wildlife species are indigenous to the wilderness areas and foothills of California, including insects, rodents, reptiles and mammals. Life-threatening encounters are extremely rare, but you should acquaint yourself with the creatures that were here long before the arrival of humans--and still call Santa Clarita 'home.'
Please follow our tips, and those on the Keep Me Wild website. Doing so will protect your family, pets, property--and the animals.
How to Report a Problem
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911* (from home) or the SCV Sheriff's station, 661-255-1121 (from your cell phone).
If you are not in immediate danger, but are concerned about wild animals that may be a danger to yourself or other residents, you may report them to the Dept of Fish & Wildlife Natural Resource Volunteers by calling 562-342-7100 (during normal business hours). Please note volunteers will take your report, but Fish & Wildlife only responds if someone is attacked, which is very, very rare. Dept of Fish & Wildlife policy is to "keep it wild" until there is a public safety issue.
Further, report your concerns to either City Hall (if within City of Santa Clarita limits) or L.A. County (if outside Santa Clarita limits.)
*Dialing 911 from your cell phone will direct you to the CHiP. It is the SCV Sheriff's Station that will assist during an animal attack.
City of Santa Clarita
Here you may make an online service request to report a coyote problem. Simply type "coyote" in the search box to find the current link, or call (661) 259-CITY .
Unincorporated Area of Santa Clarita Valley (L.A. County)
This link provides you with information on living with the urban coyote from the County of Los Angeles, Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures, Pest Control. To report a concern regarding coyotes, call 626-575-5462. Your concern will be routed to an inspector, who will contact you. They may then trap the coyotes. For other pests (gophers, pigeons and small animals, call (626) 575-5471.
Are there mountain lions in the SCV wilderness? Yes. Foothills and mountains are mountain lion habitat. Generally, if you see deer, you are in mountain lion territory, as deer are the main food source for mountain lions. However, the absence of deer does not mean the absence of mountain lions, as they can subsist on smaller animals. Mountain lions are typically solitary and elusive, and prefer to avoid humans. They often co-exist among people, unseen and unheard. But rarely, they do abandon their natural instincts and attack humans.
MOUNTAIN LION SIGHTINGS: As late as November 2013
there has been evidence of a mountain lion in Santa Clarita.
What can you do to be safe? First, understand that mountain lions are predatory animals; they tend to attack from behind and target the spine at the base of the skull. One theory, tested in Nepal with tigers, is to where a hat (or plastic Halloween-type mask) with a face on the back of your head. In a small study group, individuals wearing the masks were not attacked when tapping rubber trees, while the group without the masks did experience attacks.
Second, hike in groups. Make noise. Mountain lions typically prefer not to come in contact with humans.
Third, make yourself look as large as possible. When hiking, DO NOT CROUCH DOWN. PICK UP SMALL CHILDREN; mountain lions are drawn to children. If your property butts up against the foothills, do not leave children outdoors unattended.
Fourth, California's Dept. of Fish & Wildlife recommends that if you see a lion, DO NOT APPROACH IT and DO NOT RUN. If you run, it will mistake you for prey. Face it standing--making noise and waving your arms. The objective is to look as large as possible. Fight back if attacked; do not play dead.
Is pepper spray effective? Perhaps. Understand there are two distinct types of pepper spray. The pepper spray marketed for humans pours out in a stream and requires you to face your attacker--an opportunity you may not have with a mountain lion. The type marketed for bear dispenses in a fog, which will undoubtedly affect you as well.
"Living with California Mountain Lions"
Note: We've included photos of California bobcats, which are often confused with mountain lions.
They're cute, so you want to feed them, right? Don't do it; it's a fatal mistake. When you feed a coyote, you're teaching him that Humans=Food. He'll be back--for your scraps, pet, or small child. He's a wild animal and it's all just food to him. If you see coyotes in your neighborhood, let them know they are not welcome. Spray a garden hose at them, make loud noises, throw rocks. Send a clear message.
The greatest majority of attacks on humans occur between March through August, when the female is in gestation or has given birth. Male coyotes must forage for additional food resources. Keep in mind attacks occur outside of that window as well.
Take precautions: Do not leave trash in open containers or pet food out over night. Do not leave small children unattended, even in your yard. Do not leave dogs, even large dogs, out at night. Some coyotes seek cats in residential areas; bring yours in at night. Motion-activated sprinkler systems can help keep coyotes and other unwanted wildlife at bay.
"Living with California Coyotes"
Yes, believe it or not, there are bear in the mountain ranges here. The Department of Fish & Wildlife informed Santa Clarita Guide in April 2013 that bear are beginning to show up in populated areas. Population densities are low, since it's not the best habitat for them, but they are here. Follow the same tips for preventing bear as you do for preventing coyotes: don't leave pet food out at night and secure your trash. Bears are extremely smart and adaptable to humans. Monrovia, only fifteen miles outside the City of Los Angeles, has a terrible bear problem; the bear have learned the trash pickup schedule and scour for food the night prior to pickup. Their strength is incredible and they are capable of enormous property damage.
California's Dept. of Fish & Wildlife recommends: On the rare chance you would encounter a bear IN home, do not approach the bear. Remove yourself from danger and call 911 when you are safe. Do not block any exits that the bear would use to escape.
If you encounter a bear in your yard, slowly back away. Do NOT approach the bear. Allow the bear plenty of room to pass or withdraw. Once you are a safe distance away, encourage the bear to leave by banging pots and pans or making other loud noises.
"Living with California Black Bear"
SNAKES, SPIDERS AND SCORPIONS
What are the dangers of living in the same environment as tarantulas, black widows, wolf spiders and rattlesnakes? Not as great as you might think. Read the details here:
California's Dept. of Fish & Wildlife recommends that you do not leave small children in your yard unattended--even if it is fenced in. Wildlife, such as coyotes, mountain lions and bear, cannot decipher between children and prey. A fenced-in yard is no barrier for our wildlife. Also, small children may see rattlesnakes and insects as something with which to play.
Please keep your children safe.
ARE YOU A PET OWNER?
You should be aware that letting your kitty or small dog outside could make him someone's evening snack. Numerous small animals are lost to Santa Clarita's wildlife every year. And, no, they are not safe in your fenced-in yard.
California Wildlife Services Online
USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Living with Wildlife