Shortly after we moved to Redlands CA, I read a LA Times article about a tracker hired by a Redlands resident to trap and kill coyotes. It triggered my ‘But we moved into their territory’ reaction. The article gave examples of southern California cities occasionally hiring a local trapper, Jimmie Rizzo of Animal Pest Management, and also provided criticism from animal advocates. I was always going to check on whether our county or city utilized his services (update – have not found recent examples of this in my city.)
Fast forward to this summer when the LA Times had a number of articles about coyote issues in Calabasas, which later passed a very progressive Coyote Management Plan after residents became alarmed when officials were considering killing a coyote mother and her young that moved into an abandoned home.
I’ve had email correspondence with director Camilla Fox and volunteer Bee Simpson of Project Coyote, an organization that promotes coexistence with coyotes, and was instrumental in the Calabasas solution. Bee began working on the issue in 1980s in South Pasadena and helped Arcadia residents and other cities to end or reconsider future killing.
Here are some tips from Bee if you’re wondering about predator control in your city:
Key is local residents’ participation – “not until we had that in various cities was there was change in attitude and action by officials….. Your council members and other policy makers need to know voters in your city care. So as you begin, find kindred spirits.”
- Acquaint yourself with the animal shelter serving your city. Do they do any education on wildlife? If coyotes are killed by county, which agency is it? You might call the number you received and ask some questions like how much do they investigate a complaint, what determines taking lethal action against coyotes, how many have they caught and killed in the past year?
- Bee says the way coyotes are “trapped” is with a baited wire snare. “It tightens as animal struggles, if still alive when trapper returns animal is killed. You will need to learn how are coyotes in your area killed – If snared, are they then shot? injected with lethal drug? Once people learn coyotes are NOT released, they are often willing to change their behavior. .. Snares also can and do catch other animals including pets.”
- Don’t feed wild animals. (I admit I have been guilty of this) - remember that garbage, pet food, fallen fruit all attract coyotes. “In Arcadia, a woman had been feeding feral cats, she started feeding coyotes so they would ‘leave the cats alone’. She then moved away and the complaints against coyotes began. Before we helped end it, the city had killed 23 coyotes. Intentional and non-intentional feeding is very often a factor in coyote complaints.”
- People need to take responsibility for their small children and pets and not invite coyotes
Other coyote factoids:
Coyotes eat carrion, they are nature’s clean up crew, but if a cat is hit by a car and the coyote finds it, he will eat & be blamed for killing the cat
They are day time animals by nature so seeing them is not abnormal. They have learned to move about dawn/dusk.
In Dec-Jan they are breeding so you’re more likely to see them. Coyotes calling, yipping, is conversation – they’re talking to each other.
Coyotes are good parents, males help in raising young
Rabies is not an issue in coyotes in California
To give perspective, dogs cause thousands of injuries yearly, have also killed children
The Project Coyote contains a lot of good information.
Coyote Letter to Officials – a letter Bee wrote Arcadia officials, which helped a campaign by residents to end the killing. Another approach is to encourage cities to form an Animal Commission, such as happened in Los Angeles and South Pasadena. (Click links for commission websites)