PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) --There has been an alarming increase in the number of coyote sightings on the Peninsula, and carcasses of cats are turning up in Palo Alto and other nearby cities. Animal Control says it may be due to the drought.
Fresh paw prints from what appears to be a coyote are visible around Vish Karmarkar's home. The canine came from the street and onto his deck sometime Tuesday night. He says the paw prints have become rather common in the past three weeks or so.
"Oh yeah, they destroyed my garden back there," he said.
The Palo Alto resident's backyard garden is lush with vegetables. Worse yet, the coyotes he says are hunting cats.
"They killed one cat over there," he said. "My neighbor's cat. She lost a cat."
Karmarkar lives across the street from Robles Park, where the cat's remains were found. It was his neighbor's pet.
What makes the coyote sightings unique is that Robles Park is just a couple of blocks from busy El Camino.
It's a long trip for the coyotes, which normally live up in the Los Altos Hills.
But in the past two years, and increasingly so these past couple of months, the animals have been migrating to urban areas like this park in the heart of Palo Alto.
"We've been getting them, reported cats being killed, about one a day," said Palo Alto Animal Control Officer Cody Macartney.
Macartney believes the drought is forcing the animals to come down from their natural habitat.
"Water is drying up, food sources are becoming less plentiful in the hills, so they're coming down to find food," he said.
The coyotes are scaring neighbors in the area who have pets. This includes Sarah Marion who has a cat as well as a dog named Daisy.
Marion: "I keep him fastened up at night."
Lee: "And the reason?"
Marion: "Because of the coyotes."
The only four-legged creature we saw in the park was a squirrel. But that's because coyotes are nocturnal. Officials are urging residents to keep cats and small dogs inside at night.
To check out tips from the Humane Society of the United States on how to deter coyotes from moving into your neighborhood, click here.