'They're predators': SJ residents share frightening stories of 'coyote crisis' after several dogs, cats attacked

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay, there is a "coyote crisis," according to residents living in the Evergreen Foothills.

Neighbors at The Villages in San Jose said several cats and dogs have been attacked by the wild animals, recently. Residents fear coyotes are getting too comfortable.

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"Now you have to dress for battle when you go out to walk your dog," Cheryl Genovesi told ABC7 News.

She and others arm themselves with a combination of bats, whistles, walking sticks, air horns, cans with rocks inside, and even wasp spray before taking their dogs on walks.

Residents explained there have been a handful of attacks over the last few months, with some cases turning deadly.

"We've got sightings every single day," Genovesi added. "Coyotes that are just walking down the street, laying in peoples' driveways, just kind of walking around like they own the place."

She's run into coyotes before. In Genovesi's experience, she explained, "They're predators. They're not afraid of human beings. They will not back down. And if they know they have a free meal, they're going to come back to your dog."

"It's gotten worse, we had two dogs dead," she said about pets in the community.

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One coyote recently took a 9-year-old Chihuahua-poodle mix named Marley by the neck. His owners said if they hadn't charged the animal, Marley could've been killed.

"It was really frightening looking at that because that coyote looked like it wasn't going to back off," Doug Pickering said about the attack on his dog, Marley. "It stood there, wanting to get a meal and then it finally took off into the bushes. But it happened so fast."

Pickering said it's a shame he and his neighbors are frightened.

"You know, when you just want to bring your dog out for a walk or play in the grass," he added. "I think that was a real wakeup call that we got to keep them very, very close."

Pickering said in the end, Marley suffered cuts and had bite marks around his neck. He said the veterinarian was also concerned about rabies.

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The Villages General Manager Tim Sutherland declined to speak on-camera. He told ABC7 News that since May 2020, all coyote sightings have been reported to the Santa Clara County Vector Control District and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sutherland didn't have detailed numbers on hand, but as an example explained that over a 10-day period, he received at least 10 reports of coyote sightings.

He said it's important to remember the numbers don't necessarily mean there were 10 different coyotes on the property.

Sutherland said he's confident in the community's education efforts, as The Villages has put out weekly reminders and tips related to public safety.

"I just don't understand why they couldn't trap them, and move them somewhere else," resident Coleen McIntyre told ABC7 News. "I don't want them killed, I understand we're in a wildlife area. But this is pretty scary for people."

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However, Sutherland explained only Fish and Wildlife has the authority to trap the animals.

McIntyre said she has only lived in the community for the last four months, "And I've had four encounters with coyotes. Two of them very scary, the other two little farther away, but still, they're there."

The Villages is a 55+ community with many concerned about older residents who may be unable to defend themselves.

"Not everybody is the epitome of perfect health," resident Genovesi shared. "They're in different ages. Somebody who might be in their 70s or 80s- there's no way they're going to be able to fend off a coyote or try to grab their dog away from a coyote."

Pickering added, "Under the wrong circumstances, when there are two or three of these animals, bats and shaking rocks in a can, and waving a stick isn't going to do it. Those animals are capable of hurting me and anyone else."

All residents shared concern about grandchildren coming to visit the community as well, pointing to what they call a lack of action from management.

Sutherland explained Vector Control representatives often scour the community to look for dens. He said a maintenance team also patrols, to look for any openings along the gated community's perimeter.

Residents maintain more must be done to protect people and pets.
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