It has been a bad year for prey in the Santa Monica Mountains. Coyotes and dogs are living high on the hog when it comes to dining alfresco on domestic game. Well, actually, high on the chicken, high on the cat and high on the guinea hen. The loss to pet owners has been immense, not to mention the fear these attacks have generated around the barnyard and the kitty litter box.
But, thank God, help is here at last. Supervisor Mike Antonovich, heeding the cries of distress, has issued a pamphlet.
I can almost hear the hosannas.
Issuing a pamphlet is only one step removed from holding a press conference and portends an escalation of temporary attention to a civic disturbance.
While no one actually does anything by distributing a county tract, the leaflet serves notice on coyotes and dogs that old Mike Antonovich knows you're out there.
This pamphlet, by the way, is not at all like the one that drew so much attention last month by cautioning junkies to use sterile needles in order to avoid AIDS. Mike would not endorse what he regards as such radical-liberal garbage.
Word around the county building, in fact, suggests that Antonovich is so angry about the be-a-healthy-junkie leaflet that he is seriously considering issuing a pamphlet on how to avoid outrageous pamphlets.
The current booklet, prepared by the Department of Animal Control and circulated by Antonovich, concerns itself not with dope and disease but, on a much higher level, with saving your kitty-cat, your doggie-dear and your chickee-pet from the nasty coyote.
As a result of its high moral posture in a filth-ridden world and the subsequent lack of adequate media exposure, hardly anyone but me has even noticed that Mike has issued anything at all, except rumors concerning his possible bid for the U. S. Senate in 1986.
I found my copy of the pamphlet under a sleeping derelict on the banks of Topanga Creek. I stopped because I thought the man was dead, but when I touched him he opened his eyes and said, "Got any loose change?" I gave him a quarter and took Mike's pamphlet, which the poor man was using for a pillow.
The Antonovich brochure is called "Coping With the Urban Coyote" and features photographs of a smiling Mike and a smiling coyote. They are not smiling at each other, by the way, but it would not surprise me if they were.
I once heard another politician in another town address a dog show and noticed to my surprise that he was speaking directly to the dogs.
Chairman Mike's circular addresses itself to the protection of cats, rabbits, small children and other potential culinary delights favored by coyotes. Among its observations, the brochure warns: "It is against the law for residents of Los Angeles County to feed coyotes (County Code: Section 10.84.010)."
That does not apply, of course, to anyone who inadvertently feeds a coyote by leaving his cat outdoors overnight.
However, there is no law that I know of that applies to people who feed dogs, and dogs are the big problem in places like Malibu Park.
By some accounts, they are eating pet guinea hens, ducks, chickens and an occasional cockateel. The Bird People, as they have come to be called, are in turn shooting the dogs. The Dog People are not shooting the birds yet, but we cannot assume that they won't.
A bird for a dog is the law of the jungle.
Spare me your argument that the dog, by eating a chicken, is simply following his instincts. Man, by shooting the dog, is simply following his.
Dogs are not mentioned as predators in the Antonovich pamphlet. What the 5th Supervisorial District needs, therefore, is another pamphlet to fill the gap.
This is going to be a tough one for Mike. Come down too hard on dogs and there goes the race for the Senate.
On the other hand, you can't very well issue a brochure on how to help a dog find birds because then you'll have the bird lobby on your back.
It's a dangerous political stage for a tap-dancing politician. But I have an idea.
For years Antonovich has been trying unsuccessfully to shut down Topanga Canyon's Elysium Fields clothing-optional camp.
So how about, "Coping With the Urban Nudist"? A style similar to that employed in the coyote circular can be applied here:
DO avoid the stray nudist when he wanders into a residential area.
DO NOT feed, pet or otherwise befriend an urban nudist. Remember, they are wild creatures and do not react in the same way as decent Americans who wear clothes.
DO avert your gaze and DO NOT, by any means, indicate that you approve of their behavior.
ABOVE ALL, PROTECT CHILDREN. Never leave small children unattended in areas known to be frequented by urban nudists.
EVERYONE enjoys observing wildlife in its natural environment. But urban nudists are unnatural and perverted! Protect yourself from them!
Yours for a safe and decent Los Angeles County, Mike Antonovich.