Residents of the Bluffs I condominium complex on Friars Road were recently reminded that coyotes frequently visit the lush compound looking for food. A notice was posted on bulletin boards with the warning to "be especially cautious at night when walking along the back path with small children and pets." Security personnel as well as residents have spotted packs of as many as six animals in past months.
Bluffs I is situated on a scrubby mound of earth stretching upwards about one-fifth of a mile, flat surfaced and steep. The coyotes evidently find safe haven on the hilly open space during the day, though sometimes they come out while the sun shines. They have been spotted careening across Friars Road toward River Valley Golf Course as well. The critters leave their poop behind on the sidewalks, adding to the workload of the maintenance staff.
David Dichter, property manager for the Bluffs, says that the sightings match those at other condo complexes and apartment buildings in the area. Pam West, a member of the Bluffs’ board of directors, has owned and lived in one of the 324 units for many years. She says coyotes and other creatures find the complex comfortable, just as humans do. The grounds are heavily landscaped with pine trees, eucalyptus, and palms, making it a veritable wildlife sanctuary.
Since the condos were built in the 1970s, trees and other bushes -- though frequently trimmed — have grown tall. Raccoons and skunks find a nice habitat in the shrubbery, as do small western fence lizards (distant cousins of the Komodo dragon) and even an occasional snake. Hawks, doves, and crows nest in the trees. One of the residents jokes that maybe the board of directors might want to seek a grant from the federal government for its "wildlife preserve."
As to what to do about controlling the coyotes, there seems to be no recourse. Calls to San Diego County Animal Control seem to suggest that the best approach is to live and let live. Obviously, one official noted, if a coyote attacks a dog or child, a 911 call is a must.
Tim Dillingham, a biologist with California Department of Fish and Game in San Diego, said, "There is no doubt a few thousand of the wiry creatures live in the San Diego environs, given the scrubby canyons and brushy areas throughout. They collect where there is open space, trying to stay alive with the rest of us. The animals pose no threat to the community, and we take the attitude that little control is needed. Obviously, if the numbers grew to be too large, then something might have to be done to reduce the population. But that does not look likely."