Palo Alto police are seeking information from anyone who might know who killed and partially skinned a coyote in Arastradero Preserve.
Police do not know why or how the coyote was killed, but it appeared to have been trapped. Police are considering the incident a case of animal cruelty.
A person hiking in the preserve on Sunday found the dead coyote off the Redtail Loop trail. The animal was hung upside down from a tree and partially skinned. The hiker called police at about 12:13 p.m., police Sgt. Brian Philip said.
Animal control officers were called to the scene to collect evidence and a knife was located nearby, he said. The coyote was found about 50 yards west of the southernmost trail near Arastradero Road and the parking area. There was no sign of a firearm used to kill the coyote, Philip said. The incident was reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
"Obviously, the fact that someone was able to catch and skin a coyote is a concern," Philip said.
Police are asking anyone who might have information about the incident, who finds a trap or snare, or who sees unusual activity or persons in the open spaces to call Palo Alto police dispatch at 650-329-2413. Preserve and open space users should also stay on trails to avoid possibly being injured by a trap or snare, he said.
A conviction for animal cruelty can result in imprisonment in state prison or in county jail for up to a year and/or up to a $20,000 fine, according to state law. Hunting, poaching, trapping or taking animals at Arastradero and other city open space areas is a crime, according to municipal code.
In general, California requires people to have a hunting license for hunting or trapping coyotes. Traps, including on private property, must be registered with state Fish and Wildlife, according to the California Code of Regulations and the Fish and Game Code.
Anonymous tips can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.