Updated: January 19, 2014 at 9:01 am
BROOMFIELD — Participants in a Broomfield animal study are being asked to harass coyotes to see how they react.
The coyote behavioral study has been going on in Broomfield for the past two years. The latest study asks residents in select study areas to actively haze the animals by shouting, using noise makers or waving their arms to scare the coyotes off while in specific open space areas.
Participants are using cameras, warning signs and other research tools to gather information that can help researchers better understand how hazing affects coyote behavior. The areas also will be monitored with mounted cameras to get visuals of coyote behavior.
"We know that hazing can be effective, but not enough people do it, so its effectiveness seems limited," said Stewart Breck of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Wildlife Research Center.
Broomfield got more involved in research and response to coyotes after three attacks on children in the Anthem area in 2011. None of the children were seriously injured and in response to the attacks, nine coyotes were killed in 2011.
Pet attacks have also been reported. Since 2009, at least 30 unattended pets have died from coyote attacks, according to officials.
Researchers have already posted out informational signs in selected areas. The areas include The Field open space, a greenbelt area near the Broadlands and Aspen Creek neighborhoods and the greenbelt behind the recreation center in Anthem, according to Broomfield Open Space and Trails coordinator Pete Dunlaevy.
Residents who walk dogs, bike or run through those open space areas will see the signs explaining the research, and the signs will ask residents to contact researchers if they see a coyote.
Researchers will later put out additional signs with specific instructions for hazing, but not all of the research areas will get hazing instruction signs.
"The main objective is to observe humans and coyotes and (reduce) human-coyote conflict," Dunlaevy said.
The new phase of the ongoing study is led by the National Wildlife Research Center and is supported by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, along with Broomfield, Lakewood, Aurora and Jefferson County.
The hazing will take place before young coyotes are born in the spring, so it will not impact adult coyotes with their young.
The study previously has involved putting GPS tracking collars on coyotes to better understand their movements, behaviors and territories.
Broomfield Open Space and Trails officials are urging residents to bring pets inside at night, even if the yard has a fence, so they don't trample on coyote territory or even worse, look like an easy meal for the wild animals.
The city has a coexistence policy that recognizes that coyotes live in the area. It asks residents to help establish clear boundaries between humans and coyotes that can prevent attacks or unwanted confrontations.