Coyote sightings around San Ramon schools have been reported recently, the latest one Thursday morning when one of the animals was seen sleeping under a school's marquee.
"It's odd," said San Ramon Valley school district spokesman Terry Koehne. "We've never had this many."
Thursday's sighting was one of a handful in the past few weeks at Pine Valley Middle School, said Koehne. It is believed to be the same animal, which a custodian unsuccessfully tried to shoo away before it left on its own. He said the county has set traps in hopes of catching the animal. Alerts have been sent to parents, though the district does not believe there is any danger.
There also have been other coyote sightings in the city. A parent reported seeing one Wednesday on a hillside behind Bollinger Canyon Elementary School. Two were seen on Nov. 19 in a California High parking lot.
In the Dougherty Valley, coyotes also were reportedly seen Dec. 1 at Live Oak Elementary and Dec. 4 at Quail Run Elementary.
Coyotes, who usually travel in small groups, are generally afraid of people — though they can quickly get used to them after enough contact, said Doug Updike, senior wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game. The public should take precautions, such as securing small pets so they don't end up as coyote food. The department also suggests not feeding the animals and clearing brush that provides habitat for their prey.
The department also said it is rare, but coyotes have been known to hurt small children. Anyone encountering them should take the same actions as when seeing other potentially dangerous animals — for example, mountain lions — such as attempting to appear larger by raising your arms, Updike said.
Updike said in some drier areas like Southern California, coyotes will be seen more in the summer when water is scarce and people watering lawns create more habitat for their prey.
But, he said, in the Bay Area there isn't a time of year when they're more likely to be seen.
Reach reporter Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.