Dear LAist: Does The City Really Hire People To Hunt Coyotes?
WE'RE ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS ABOUT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA THAT KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT. IF YOU HAVE ONE, ASK IT HERE.
The sight of a coyote on your street can be beautiful or terrifying or anything in between. But in some areas of L.A., residents believe they're seeing an uptick of the animals as well as the damage they can cause.
Reader Kristine wrote in to ask what's being done about them:
"What's up with coyote management? In some East San Gabriel Valley Facebook groups, it's a huge topic because pets are being killed. Some people were saying that there used to be guys hired to hunt them. Is that right?"
So, straight out of the gate: Yes, that is right.
"We have trained people on staff who do this, but it's a last resort," said Ken Pellman, a public information officer with the L.A. County Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures Office.
Instead, Pellman said it's important to first understand the extent of the risk that coyotes present — which may seem worse than it actually is.
"People are more connected with their neighbors now, using Nextdoor and things like that," he said. "If one loses a pet and another loses a pet, more people are aware of it."
In fact, the number of coyotes tends to ebb and flow over time.
When coyotes are present in a given area, Pellman suggests adopting a mindset of trying to coexist with them, rather than get rid of them. That means keeping a safe distance from the animals if you spot one, keeping small or otherwise vulnerable pets indoors at night, and above all, never feeding them.
"We have found people leaving food out specifically for coyotes," said Pellman. "It's illegal, and it's an absolute no-no... because now the coyote associates you with food. Your scent is on that plastic plate that you left out. Now the coyote smells you and thinks, 'Oh, food!'"
If coyotes do present a threat, the first place to call is your area's city hall. City officials can take the appropriate action. In some areas - including parts of the San Gabriel Valley - residents have taken the issue to their city council to press for more aggressive coyote management strategies.
But in general, says Pellman, coyotes are doing their jobs in their natural environment.
"If all coyotes in this area were taken away, what you'd see is an increase in other predators; mountain lions and bears," he said. "That's just the way the ecosystem works. Or, you would see more rodents, because there wouldn't be predators to remove them."