Mountain lions, coyotes and bears! CA wildlife officials want you to report encounters, sightings

David González Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024

A coyote captured on home surveillance video stalking a cat at a home in Mission Viejo is just one of many recent examples of wildlife getting to close to homes across Southern California.

"It happens all the time around here, unfortunately," said Cindy Stalnaker, the owner of Maddy the cat.

In this case, the coyote rammed the screen door but a baby gate on the other side stopped it from getting Maddy.

"It was terrifying," Stalnaker said. "That coyote could have jumped through the screen."

Surveillance footage shows a coyote repeatedly charging a screen door at a home in Mission Viejo.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife public information officer Tim Daly said sightings of animals like coyotes, mountain lions and bears went up during the pandemic.

"Their habitat and our communities are certainly much closer than before," he said.

"People were home more, seeing more of what was going on around their homes and their backyards and their neighborhoods," he added.

Security cameras are also capturing their movements more and more.

"Whether it's in the backyard or the front porch or the street out front, that's also a big reason that it seems like there's an increase in wildlife activity in our neighborhoods," Daly said.

Report your wildlife encounters

The department now wants you to use their improved Wildlife Incident Reporting system the next time you encounter one of these wild animals.

"It could be something as simple as sighting or an actual visit into our backyard. We will take any information that the public wants to provide."

The incident report details what type of animal you saw, when and where you saw it, and options on why you're reporting the animal - like if it's a threat to pets or livestock.

Any and all information can help Fish and Wildlife track their activity.

"Our WIR system reaches biologists instantly," Daly said. "We can respond sooner. We also then build a better database for which animals are doing what in which communities."

Meanwhile, Maddy's owners will keep a closer eye on her as they continue to coexist with wildlife.

"They were here first before all these houses got built so I get it. I understand it," Stalnaker said.

If you want to keep these type of animals away from your home, Fish and Wildlife said you have to do your part by not leaving food out and keeping your pets indoors.