Can Fake Coyotes Scare Off Sea Lions? - Atlas Obscura
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Can Fake Coyotes Scare Off Sea Lions?

The city of Newport Beach, California, aims to find out.

Newport Beach, California, has a sea lion problem. The sleek beasts have an annoying habit of climbing aboard the docks and private boats in the harbor and sunning themselves, creating a dangerous situation (for human and sea lion) when the boats’ owners come to take their vessels out. So in an effort to combat this plague of sea lions, Newport Beach has turned to an unlikely ally: fake coyotes.

According to Mary Locey, a representative of the City of Newport Beach who spoke to local news station ABC 7, they got the idea from the harbor yacht club, who have had some success with the concept.

The city installed eight plastic coyote statues on parts of the harbor where the animals have been known to gather. Each coyote is depicted in a fearsome crouch, as if it might be ready to attack.

Locey also suggested that people fill the empty spaces on the boats and docks with potted plants or lawn chairs to make them less inviting. The NOAA’s official guide to acceptable sea lion deterrents also lists a number of potential options including using balloons or pinwheels as visual deterrents, loud noises such as firecrackers or banging pots together, or even spraying them with squirt guns.

The use of fake coyotes is not listed as an officially approved method of deterrent, but then again they don’t say not to either.