CAMILLA H. FOX | FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
PROJECT COYOTE | P.O. Box 5007 Larkspur, CA 94977
Phone: 415.945.3232 | ProjectCoyote.org
FACEBOOK: ProjectCoyote | TWITTER: @ProjectCoyote
A summerlong debate over urban coyotes — and what to do about them — will resume Wednesday when a Los Angeles City Council committee considers whether the city should do more than preach coexistence.The Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee took no action June 29 on a motion by Councilman Joe Buscaino after animal services officials doubled down on their decades-old practice of relying on community education. Committee members will pick up the discussion at 9 a.m. Wednesday.“The department strongly believes that the best approach to responsible coyote management or ‘control’ is ongoing education on how to coexist with indigenous wildlife,” stated a report prepared by the city’s Department of Animal Services.
HUMANE RESPONSE ENCOURAGEDThe position is applauded by animal welfare groups such as Project Coyote, which has been closely following the new discussions.Randi Feilich, the volunteer Southern California representative for the group, told council members in June that coexistence, rather than lethal policies, is more humane and effective.“We support a proactive plan that emphasizes public education and effective behavior modifications to reduce conflicts between people, pets and coyotes,” Feilich said. “The city of Los Angeles has become a model and a leader in environmental stewardship with the ban on trapping.”Increasingly, though, other cities, including Torrance, are opting to trap and euthanize coyotes in “hot spot” problem areas where the predators are seen stalking or killing pets, entering residential yards and behaving more boldly around humans than is typical for the species.Critics of L.A.’s approach charge that officials there listen only to those animal rights groups that support education without ever considering trapping. They also have challenged the city’s 20-page report, saying it pales in comparison to more detailed coyote management plans in other cities.
OTHER RESEARCHMark Steinberg of Los Feliz — whose two medium-size dogs were attacked and killed in separate incidents by coyotes inside his fenced backyard over the past several years — urged council members in a July 5 letter to broaden the scope of their outreach to include findings of researchers who may disagree.“I respectfully suggest that diversity of opinion is not something to avoid in framing and recommending a course of action on this important issue,” Steinberg wrote. “Rather, the Department (of Animal Services) should solicit a spectrum of opinion, specify the individuals with whom it consults and explain its decisions to accept or reject the views of those individuals.”
Coyote activity has been especially high this year in San Pedro.Feilich has offered Project Coyote’s resources to the city of Los Angeles through its Coyote Friendly Communities Program.The services already being used in cities such as San Francisco, Calabasas and Albuquerque, New Mexico, include free presentations, workshops and public education materials.“Scientific studies show that trapping does not work,” she told the council members.
RESIDENTS FRUSTRATEDBut residents remain frustrated as reports multiply of pet attacks and coyotes clearing fences as high as 6 feet. It is thought that the increasing activity is due to higher coyote populations or to increasing levels of habituation around people.“I have a small dog, but I always go out in the yard with her whenever she needs to go out as I, too, have seen these coyotes,” Graham Taylor-Letch wrote Friday on a San Pedro Coyote Watch Facebook page. “I keep a baseball bat next to the back door just in case one comes over the wall.”Another resident, Janice Hill, wrote this on the same Facebook page Thursday: “This morning about 4:30 a.m. on Patton and 10th. A coyote had a cat. Sorry to say the cat was killed ...”Residents are encouraged to keep their animals indoors at night and supervised during the day, even when they are inside their own fenced yards.
PRIVATE TRAPPINGSome homeowners have been trying to raise money to hire a private trapping company to do what they say the city should be doing on its citizens’ behalf.Similar Facebook coyote pages fill up each day with reports of coyote issues, including the page titled Coyote Sightings in SFV (San Fernando Valley).The NextDoor social media sites also regularly include posts about coyote incidents, such as one last week from a woman in Tarzana who posted that a coyote got into her fenced backyard and took the family’s small Pomeranian dog “right in front of our eyes.”It happened at 9 a.m. and her family witnessed the incident through a large window in their home.“When we ran after (the coyote) and yelled at him, he still would not let go of the dog whom we found a few minutes later dead,” she wrote.
WANT TO LISTEN IN?• Wednesday’s committee meeting will take place in Room 1010 at Los Angeles City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., in downtown Los Angeles.• Those interested also can listen live to the meeting by phone. The dial-in numbers are 310-547-CITY for San Pedro, 310-471-CITY for West Los Angeles, 213-621-CITY for downtown L.A. and 818-904-9450 for the San Fernando Valley.