SAN DIEGO — A warning for people living in Pacific Beach, especially if you have small pets. A pair of coyotes were caught hanging out in the area. 

Wildlife experts say coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem, helping to keep rodent populations under control. They are by nature fearful of humans. However, if coyotes are given access to human food and garbage, their behavior changes. They lose caution and fear. They may begin to harass domestic livestock and pets. They may threaten human safety.

A News 8 viewer sent us video of one coyote running around with a Great Dane. They look like they are playing but residents say the coyote problem in the area is very serious.

Here's another video of a coyote running with a ball in its mouth in the same area.

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife say coyotes are smart adaptable canines that have learned to live comfortably alongside people in residential neighborhoods. Wildlife experts agree that people have played a part in this phenomenon by being careless with food and garbage.

Relocating a problem coyote is not an option because it only moves the problem to another neighborhood.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent human-coyote conflicts

  • Never feed or attempt to tame coyotes. The result may be deadly conflicts with pets or livestock, or serious injuries to small children. 
  • Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended. 
  • Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house. 
  • Trim ground-level shrubbery to reduce hiding places. 
  • Be aware that coyotes are more active in the spring, when feeding and protecting their young. 
  • If followed by a coyote, make loud noises. If this fails, throw rocks in the animal’s direction. 
  • If a coyote attacks a person, immediately contact the nearest Department of Fish and Wildlife or law enforcement office. 

Stash Your Food and Trash 

  • Coyotes primarily hunt rodents and rabbits for food but will take advantage of whatever is available including garbage, pet food, and domestic animals.
  • Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over. 
  • Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates. 
  • Bring pets in at night, and do not leave pet food outside. 
  • Avoid using bird feeders as they attract rodents and other coyote prey. Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry and other livestock. 
  • Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles. 
  • Ask your neighbors to follow these tips.