One of natures most adaptable and opportunistic predators/scavengers, coyotes can have a wide variety of prey sources depending on availability: small mammals, rodents, fish, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, plants, berries, and even deer on rare occasions. These animals are considered a keystone species as they keep rodent populations under control which also help keep the spread of disease down. In urban areas, coyotes have adapted to living among humans, sometimes preying on small pets that are accessible and even going through trash.
Coyotes have been coming under more scrutiny in many urban areas of Orange County mostly due to lack of education or people somehow forgetting about them being around. While there is no evidence of increasing populations, social media makes it seem like their population is increasing due to seeing everyone's reports vs. before social media. Like most wild animals, coyotes have a natural fear of humans instilled in them but as many coyotes have no choice to adapt to living among residential areas. It is up to us to help keep this fear instilled in them by educating ourselves, hazing them, and not making our pets or trash cans available to them. Unfortunately, some people often blame coyotes for attacks on pets and small children instead of admitting fault for their incorrect actions. There have been several attacks in Orange County which were almost all created by human errors. Since we humans are able to educate ourselves about these animals and coyotes do not understand our ways of life and are just trying to survive, it is up to us to be smarter than them when living in places that coyotes inhabit. The people that somehow get outsmarted by coyotes tend to be the people that hate them and therefore spread much false information about them. People that hate coyotes in general are a great example of this mindset which only creates more of a problem because they may have had a pet get attacked but instead of learning from their mistakes, they choose to just hate the coyotes for doing what they're supposed to do by eating what's available. Attacks on pets are a problem as many people leave small pets in places that are accessible by coyotes, these pets don't understand these dangers and coyotes don't understand that these easy prey items are peoples pets. If you have a pet that got killed by a coyote, you are completely at fault and are responsible for contributing to the habituation of these coyotes for future pet attacks.
A few things to keep in mind when encountering coyotes:
1. Don't run from a coyote, you will only trigger them to assume you are some sort of prey.
2. Stand your ground and show the coyote that you may be a threat to it. Coyotes don't have access to hospitals like us so if a coyote is injured, it will likely lead to its death which is why it will not attack if it thinks there's a chance of injury.
3. Do not let your small dogs or cats out in areas where coyotes are known to be unless they are on a leash where you can protect them.
4. If your pet disappears from your yard, don't be so quick to blame coyotes as hawks, owls, and eagles have been known to also prey upon pets as well.
Coyotes are wild animals and should be treated and respected as such but they are just trying to survive just like we are, they have families they need to feed and don't just go around attacking humans. Be smarter than the coyote, don't let yourself or your pets be attacked.