It's about to get a bit hair-raising for the Boulder Creek Path coyotes.
The city of Boulder on Friday will launch a 28-day program of hazing along a roughly 2-mile section of the Boulder Creek Path aimed at solving the problem of misbehaving coyotes generally ranging from 30th Street east to 55th Street.
Additionally, there will be periodic patrols of the area carried out by animal control officers and open space rangers.
And, as has long been the case, if a coyote that has been involved in a serious, aggressive interaction with a person can be identified, it will be shot and killed.
The city recorded seven encounters between people and coyotes in the target area between Dec. 24 and Jan. 2. Those included one biting, a coyote menacing a woman walking her dog, and a bicycling commuter who had a coyote nipping at his heels.
Boulder's new strategy is site-specific and is not intended as an overarching coyote management plan for the entire city. Its success will be evaluated after Feb. 15.
"The plan that we've just put together is a proactive approach to see how we can try and re-teach, so to speak, coyotes that people are something to fear," said Val Matheson, the city's urban wildlife conservation coordinator.
"So, this is a hazing program. People are going to be out on the trail every day, and they're going to be looking for coyotes. And if they see a coyote next to the trail, they're going to employ techniques like yelling or shaking cans with batteries or pennies in them, or lunging toward them or throwing a tennis ball. They're engaging the coyote. They're basically being big and scary."
Essentially, Matheson said, there is a two-way education program now under way: People need to be taught the correct way to conduct themselves if coyotes are near, and coyotes have to learn that people are not their friends and are best avoided.
Relocation of coyotes is not legal under state law, Matheson said, for reasons that include potential disease issues.
The hazing teams will include Open Space and Mountain Parks staff, Boulder police animal control officers, University of Colorado facilities management personnel as well as volunteers who have completed 1.5 hours of training on coyote behavior and biology. Working in small groups, they will be dispersed in staggered shifts mostly between 8 a.m. and early afternoon hours, when most of the recent interactions have been reported.
It's not known how many coyotes are living in the area, Matheson said. In addition to the water supply and vegetation cover provided along Boulder Creek, she cited a large cottonwood grove south of Pearl Parkway and just east of 55th Street as a particularly favorable habitat for the animals.
"I think it would be unrealistic to think there would be a time when coyotes would not be using that area," Matheson said.
Accordingly, if the coyotes can't be moved, and they have no motivation to leave, Matheson said, humans and animals both need to learn their boundaries.
"The folks that will be on the trail daily (on hazing duty) will also be engaging trail users," Matheson said. "They will be providing printed material and will be talking to people about what they should and shouldn't do, because as we mentioned before, coyotes hanging around people is relatively new.
"We want the coyote to see the person and know they can't get close to it, and if they get anywhere near them, they're going to get chased away."
People are advised to keep a good distance from coyotes. And, in instances where a coyote approaches humans, people should make themselves look bigger, create noise and wave their arms to scare the animal away. Also, back away slowly.
Running away from a coyote could lead the animal to become even more aggressive, as a female jogger on the CU research campus discovered Dec. 29. That woman, who ran from a coyote that had drawn close to her, suffered a bite to the calf and required treatment at Boulder Community Hospital.
Also, those who come in contact with an aggressive coyote are asked to call 303-441-3333 as soon as possible to report the incident.
The city's plan is available at boulderwildlifeplan.net.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Charlie Brennan at 303-473-1327 or firstname.lastname@example.org.