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Coyotes and Urban Sprawl

October 27, 1985

The article "Bold Coyotes Stalk Urban Communities" (Times, Aug. 22) presented a one-sided view of this polemical subject, while many pertinent facts have been ignored.

It stated that the "animals are becoming urban dwellers." The fact is that coyotes have been roaming the hills of Southern California since the Pleistocene and the humans, who have built their homes on the coyote's former habitat, are the intruders.

Charles Ryder said in the article that "People like us, urban dwellers, aren't used to the idea of wild animals eating our pets." The reason coyotes are visible in residential areas is because they have lost the natural fear of humans who are treating them as their own domestic pets even attempting to tame them. The blame for the existing problem should be placed on the real culprits, the hillside residents who are responsible for the dilemma. I have reached this conclusion after having researched this controversial issue for more than 15 years.

Those who have chosen to build their homes in the hills but are unable to adjust to their natural environment and are determined to rid the hills of indigenous wild creatures along with those who feel sorry for having displaced these animals and are providing food for them regularly are both wrong. They are motivated by emotionalism and lack the expertise dealing with wild animals.

The food supply provided regularly by well-meaning but misguided individuals has enticed an excess number of coyotes out of the hills which has exacerbated the problem. Therefore, all restrictive measures should be directed toward the people, not the animals.

In order to alleviate the existing problem I have developed an entirely new concept; non-lethal alternatives which are in sharp contrast to traditional control methods such as trapping and shooting that have failed to produce lasting results. The ordinance I wrote to prohibit the feeding of coyotes was labeled "ludicrous" at first by most coyote control agencies, the coyote drinking ponds were also opposed and my findings that it is essential that garbage is placed in tightly lidded cans equipped with clamps was ignored. Finally, after many years of relentless effort my recommendations have been accepted and implemented. The ordinance I wrote has been enacted in Los Angeles County, in several adjacent cities, in Claremont and San Clemente. The educational brochure I wrote, "How to Coexist with Coyotes," has been placed in the envelopes with utility bills in order to correct the erroneous behavior of hillside residents. The most important section of this publication tells residents to place garbage in tightly lidded cans in order to deny coyotes an easy access to food. The unsecured garbage cans was the main problem in Glendale and Claremont.

Letters from coyote control agencies indicate that the results of my program are far better in a short period of time than the past decades of trapping and shooting coyotes. For these reasons I urge all cities to discontinue the antiquated and ineffective lethal control programs and switch to the non-lethal alternatives I have developed. They are more humane, much cheaper and less controversial.

I was pleased that in the article the Los Angeles Department of Animal Regulation was quoted mentioning a few paragraphs from my do's and don'ts which offer suggestions for dealing with coyotes.

Coyotes are beneficial to man. They devour wood rats, California voles, pocket gophers and . . . ground squirrels, a potential vector of the plague. The choice is clear. Do hillside residents prefer the presence of this useful animal, or would they rather be overrun by rats?

If the simple rules are followed which are outlined in do's and don'ts I have published, coexistence with coyotes can become a reality.

LILA BROOKS

Director

California Wildlife Defenders

Hollywood

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