Boulder's coyote hazing program is ending with more of a whimper than a bark, a positive development stemming from far fewer sightings or encounters between animals and humans over recent days.
The program had been slated to end Friday. However, the hazer scheduled to do that final shift on Friday was unavailable, so the final patrol along the Boulder Creek Path is set for Sunday.
Also, the final week of the month-long initiative, originally to have included daily hazing missions, will have seen just two take place. And after a flurry of human-coyote encounters in late December into January, it has been quieter on that front in recent weeks.
"It seems like there were fewer interactions with coyotes, and our hazers are seeing them less," said Val Matheson, Boulder's urban wildlife conservation coordinator.
She also noted, "The hazing happens quicker. It seems like in our first week of hazing, there was a learning curve for both the hazers and the coyotes, and we had to learn what the coyotes perceived as hazing and what the humans had to do."
For example, she said, it was discovered that one coyote was not bothered by noise from air horns or bottles filled with coins or cans with rocks in them. Instead, that animal was more effectively chased off by the throwing of sticks, rocks or tennis balls.
The coyote hazing program was launched Jan. 18 in response to a series of reports involving aggressive coyotes -- including one biting of a female jogger -- that were recorded on or near the Boulder Creek Path between 30th and 55th streets starting in late December.
For four weeks, staff from Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, Boulder police animal control officers and citizen volunteers patrolled the target area with the dual purpose of discouraging coyotes from human contact and educating people on proper wildlife interactions.
"I would say that for the past four weeks, the hazing has been effective," Matheson said. And, in light of the decreased activity in recent weeks, she added, "It seems that we quite possibly could have had a three-week program, instead of a four-week program."
The next step, said Matheson is to assess what has been learned and observed in recent weeks, and make decisions about what approach the city will use in the year ahead.
"We're going to have to take this information that we've gotten over the past four weeks and, over the summer, figure out how we want to come in to next season, and see what's our plan for this area for the fall so we can be proactive," she said. "But I don't know, as of yet, what that will look like."
The city's hazing program did not include a specific initiative to determine how many coyotes actually inhabited the area that was its focus.
However, Matheson said that descriptions of coyotes involved in aggressive behavior appeared to involve two separate animals. And, she said, there were no reports this season of more than three coyotes being seen in that area together at one time.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.