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Coyote Traps to Be Allowed in 'Problem' Cases

June 11, 2002|ANDREA PERERA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Los Angeles Animal Regulation Commission decided Monday to maintain the city's general ban on coyote trapping but added an exception that allows trapping if an animal has acted aggressively toward humans.

City policy had barred animal control officers from trapping coyotes unless the animals were sick, injured or had bitten someone and had to be tested for rabies.

The new policy, effective immediately, will allow animal control officers to also set traps for coyotes that, despite the department's and residents' best efforts to deter them, have attacked people or are believed likely to attack.

"This provides us the capability to respond to incidences where there really is a problem," said Jerry Greenwalt, general manager of the city Department of Animal Regulation.

The commission's decision Monday came after a city staff report recommended continuing the ban on trapping. The report also recommended hiring two additional animal control officers to teach homeowners how to dissuade coyotes from prowling around their properties.

The two additional officers will help an existing education program that has been understaffed, Greenwalt said.

The officers, who will be reassigned from other departments within animal control, will respond to complaints about coyotes and teach residents how to discourage the animals from loitering or attacking.

Among the advice they will offer will be to take pets in at night and to eliminate outdoor pet dishes and uncovered garbage cans. The officers also will try to track some coyotes and determine their behaviors.

Authorities said the decision to leave a trap would only come after an animal control officer has followed these steps and contacted the animal control general manager.

The animal control department would then work with the state Fish and Game Department and the county Department of Agriculture to determine if a trap should be set, they said.

"It's really the very, very last thing that we'll even consider," Greenwalt said.

But residents who oppose the trapping, including members of a group called Citizens for a Humane Los Angeles, said the city's modified policy could be abused.

Michael Bell, a member of the group, said he hopes animal control officers won't set a trap for every coyote that residents spot.

"That to me is not a reason to trap anything," he said.

Greenwalt said his goal is not to trap every coyote--just those that the city considers a genuine threat to humans.

"We are not absolutely assured we will catch the animal that is the biggest pest," he said. "But we believe by observation and working with the community, if there is a problem animal, we will be successful."

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