Photo illustration by Matt Weir / The Collegian
While most students associate Fresno State with professors, tests and difficult times trying to find a parking spot, the thousand plus acres of farmland hide secrets of lurking wildlife, coyotes being among the most recent.
Currently these animals are taking residence on the campus farmland.
Coyotes are commonly known to live in the country or in a substantial amount of open space not associated with humans.
Mike Mosinski, assistant director of agricultural operations, explained the presence of coyotes at Fresno State.
“We believe that there are less than ten coyotes living at the farm,” Mosinski said. “The coyotes are thought to be feeding off of the squirrels and small rodents, and this positively affects with the farm pest control problem.”
While coyotes might be helping positively regulate the amount of rodent pest problems, situations of coyotes attacking neighborhood dogs is also prevalent.
There have been reports of people walking their dogs around the campus farm and coyotes approaching them, sometimes attacking their dog.
Mosinski said that most of the cases he knows about have been situations when people have let their dogs off of the leash. The dogs encounter the coyotes when running through the fields, and then are either chased away or start a fight with the coyote.
“I have not heard of any cases where the dog has been killed, but we have had reports of dogs needing to go to the vet,” Mosinski said. “I recommend people keep their dogs on a leash so they have less of a chance getting near the coyotes.”
Mosinski also told stories he has heard of people feeding the coyotes dog treats, and letting their dogs play with coyote pups. He explained that this behavior would help domesticate these animals and will ultimately bring the unwanted coyotes closer to humans.
Agricultural Operations work with a variety of groups and organizations on campus and in the state to help control the coyotes. If coyotes are spotted they are reported to Fresno County. The county has a wildlife management group that helps track and trap coyotes at Fresno State.
Coyotes are primarily spotted at daybreak when they are heading back to their burrowed dens in the various agriculture fields.
“I have never seen a coyote before, and I ride my bike everywhere,” Frankie Gonzales, a junior Public Health major, said. “I ride all over the farm, and I only see squirrels and sometimes a skunk. I will be more aware when I ride through the farm though, now that I know coyotes live out there.”
Coyotes are not the only types of wildlife that call Fresno State their home. Squirrels, possums, jackrabbits and skunks also find places to live. Foxes used to be common on the grounds as well.
Cody Jacobsen, student herdsman of the sheep unit, discussed the damages foxes have caused.
“I have been working at the sheep unit for the past three and a half years and we have not had problems with coyotes, but we have had fox problems in the past,” Jacobsen said. “Foxes would go after baby lambs because they are an easy target.”
Jacobsen explained that he has seen approximately $1,000 of loss in regards to sheep. The sheep unit has upgraded their fencing to chain link fencing along Chestnut Avenue and the south side of the unit to help keep future predators out.
The safety and well being of students and community members are a priority to the Agricultural Operations department and the university, Mosinski said. Each is working towards solutions that would benefit the university, the community, as well as the wildlife.
“We want to educate students as well as the surrounding neighbors how to live in conjunction with the coyotes,” Mosinski said.