Environment & Science

LA coyote policy to keep focus on education, not trapping

Two coyotes walk near a construction site in Silver Lake near downtown Los Angeles in June 2015.
Two coyotes walk near a construction site in Silver Lake near downtown Los Angeles in June 2015.
Stuart Palley for KPCC

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Following a rash of daytime coyote sightings in San Pedro this spring, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino asked the city's Department of Animal Services to reconsider how it handles coyotes and report back. On Wednesday, a council committee decided education — not trapping — is still the best way to manage conflicts with coyotes.

The decision breaks with cities such as Torrance and Seal Beach, which have added trapping and euthanasia to its management options for coyotes. Los Angeles hasn’t done either of those things since 1994.

Since then, Animal Services has shifted its focus to educating people on how to avoid encounters with coyotes.

“The source of the problem is not the presence of wildlife. It is the environment that humans provide for them,” reads the agency’s website, under the header “Change in Thinking.”

Coyotes are attracted to the garbage people leave unsecured — pet food left outdoors or rotting fruit that falls from backyard trees.

If animal control officers catch people intentionally feeding coyotes, they will fine them $100.

In 2015, Animal Services stepped up its education effort with “Wildlife Watch,” which encourages people to be aware of coyote sightings in their neighborhoods similar to a neighborhood watch program.

In its report to the city council’s Animal Welfare Committee, which Buscaino sits on, the agency recommended making its coyote information more visible online and boosting its wildlife staffing to help do more community education. It also suggested installing coyote-proof trash cans in parks, similar to those used to keep out bears.

The committee voted to accept the agency’s recommendations and did not ask for any changes. The report is expected to considered by the city council in November.