New web tool tracks coyote activity using shared data from neighborhood sightings

It won’t be long before spring is here. And, typically, that means coyote season.

Spring is the time of year when pups are born and coyote parents more frequently are seen out hunting for extra food.

Rolled out just in time for this year’s anticipated uptick in residential coyote activity is a mobile-friendly web tool designed with a two-fold purpose: provide researchers with needed data on urban coyote behavior while also keeping neighbors connected so nearby sightings can be shared via email alerts set up by ZIP code. A map compiling the activity reports is included.

“We have a fairly high level of coyote conflict in Southern California,” said Niamh Quinn, an ecologist and biologist who developed the new web application, Coyote Cacher. “It’s potentially the highest conflict zone in the country. We’re on our fourth bite on humans this year and we’re not getting that level of conflict anywhere else in the U.S. It’s becoming a pattern in Southern California.”

Coyote Cacher, which is now available online at http://ucanr.edu/sites/CoyoteCacher/, isn’t in native app store-format just yet. More funding will be needed to make that happen, Quinn said. However, users can save the URL address to their phone or other mobile desktops for quick access. And the desktop app has been designed in a way that will make the transition to a specifically mobile, native app feasible when funding is available.

Coyote Cacher also comes up in a Google search. As for the name, “cache” refers to geocaching — used in GPS — and storing, in this case information; in the wildlife world, “cashe” is a term used to refer to animals gathering and hiding their food.

If enough users sign up, Quinn said the alerts can serve as an “Amber Alert” for neighborhood pet owners.

Building an urban coyote database

Quinn, a native of Ireland who has a doctorate in small mammal ecology and has been a UC Cooperative Extension adviser since 2014, is…

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