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Seal Beach's Proposal To Trap And Kill Pet-Eating Coyotes Might Not Be A Great Idea

Coyote (Photo by SKD's LA Street Scenes via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Seal Beach is considering a plan to trap and kill coyotes to stop them from killing pets, but scientists are warning that this probably isn't a great idea. Two dozens or so pets have been killed by coyotes in Seal Beach since 2013, and some of their owners are out for blood. Residents are even planning to hold a memorial ceremony for the deceased pets tonight before the Seal Beach City Council meeting, the Huntington Beach Independent reports.

At the meeting, the council may vote on suggestions from a five-person task force dedicated to coming up with a solution to this coyote problem. In the short-term, the committee wants to begin trapping and euthanizing coyotes, as well as educating residents on how to deal with the animals. The committee also suggests cleaning up areas of overgrowth so that coyotes can't take shelter there, plus requiring all trash cans be covered and fining those residents who don't comply.

However, Tim Revell, a professor at Mount San Antonio College who has a degree in biology, said that trapping the coyotes will eventually lead to exactly the opposite of what residents want. "What you end up trapping is the slow, dumb, ignorant male coyotes and remove them from the population. Trapping is the worst thing you can do," he said.

The humane society agrees, and also warns that killing coyotes will only cause them to breed at a faster rate.

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There are other ideas that Revell doesn't mind, and they include targeting aggressive coyotes in particular, or suggesting pets wear collars that would spray an odor, not unlike a skunk, if a coyote approached. But this collar isn't one that exists on the market, so someone would have to make it first.

Long Beach Animal Control Director Ted Stevens led a presentation on how to coexist with coyotes at a Seal Beach meeting two weeks ago, since the agency contracts with Seal Beach for animal control services, Voice of OC reports. He had some suggestions for residents, like using air horns, pepper spray or regular old rocks to scare coyotes off.

Residents, however, didn't take too kindly to these suggestions. Seal Beach resident Dave Pincek, who recently had two dogs attacked by coyotes, said that he would "pay to kill coyotes" and wants the Council to start issuing permits to hunt them. Stevens said they'll never be able to eradicate coyotes, and maintains that educating people on how to coexist is the answer.

Update, Sept. 23, 11:45 a.m.:

Against the advice of experts, Seal Beach City Council voted to immediately begin trapping and euthanizing coyotes, L.A. Times reports. Some passionate speeches from residents who had their pets snatched away by coyotes were heard, including testimony from one woman who says a coyote followed her inside her house after she took the trash out and ran off with her dog in its mouth.

The city will also be cleaning up overgrowth and fining residents who do not cover up their trash, or who feed coyotes, whether they intended to feed them or not.

Time will tell how Revell's warnings play out, as he has argued that only the weak, less threatening coyotes will be caught, leaving the stronger, smarter coyotes in the wild to breed.

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