How we helped save some coyotes

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, October 1999:

LOS ANGELES––By order of
the Los Angeles Animal Services Commission,
the city Department of Animal
Services on September 8 retrieved traps
that were loaned just before Labor Day
to two residents of Northridge and
Woodland Hills in the San Fernando
Valley to help them kill coyotes.
The residents were to set and
monitor the traps, but were to call
Animal Services to dispatch any coyotes
they caught.
The trap loans reversed Animal
Services Commission policy in effect
since 1993. Scare stories about why the
loans were made revived old phobias
about coyotes that “Coyote Lady” Lila
Brooks and others have fought for more
than 30 years.

“My biggest fear is that young
children could be injured by coyotes,’’
said Woodland Hills resident Lucy
Fourtney. An Associated Press account
claimed coyotes “menaced children,”
though no such incident was described.
“The animals are invading the
San Fernando Valley, authorities say,
because drought has driven them out of
the wilderness,” AP went on. “The trapping
was approved because the behavior
of the coyotes indicates they are sick or
injured and pose a hazard to the public,
according to Dan Knapp, general manager
of the city animal agency. The coyotes
have preyed on as many as 20 household
cats, which indicates they are ill because
they are not feeding on larger game,
Knapp said.”
”They are very capable of carrying
rabies,” added Lieutenant Richard
Felosky, of Animal Services’ West
Valley Animal Care and Control Center.
As ANIMAL PEOPLE immediately
pointed out by fax to Knapp, with
copies to numerous experts on coyotes,
ecology, and public health, technically
a n y mammal can carry rabies. But the
only rabies outbreak among wild coyotes
on record was in south Texas, 1994-
1997. That outbreak was ended by airdrops
of Raboral vaccine pellets––as we
reported in January 1998.
Coyotes have always been in
the San Fernando Valley, documented
by Walt Disney circa 1966 in A Country
Coyote Goes Hollywood. Free-roaming
cats have long been a staple of their diet.
“If you’ll pick up the August 5,
1999 edition of N a t u r e,” A N I M A L
P E O P L E told Knapp, “you’ll find a
study of wildlife in 30 San Diego
canyons, co-authored by Kevin Crooks
and Lee McClenaghan of San Diego
State University. They found cat remains
in 21% of the coyote scats at those sites.
They also confirmed that when coyotes
are extirpated, cat predation on birds and
small native mammals greatly increases.”
ANIMAL PEOPLE r e m i n d e d
Knapp that the North American wild coyote
and pet dog populations are estimated
at about 55 million of each. Yet 19 years
have elapsed since the only documented
human fatality resulting from a wild coyote
attack. In that time, owned pet dogs
have inflicted life-threatening injuries on
more than 800 Americans and Canadians,
460 of them children, and have killed
105 people, including 73 children.
“`Every time a bear or a coyote
shows up in someone’s neighborhood,
people want cowboys to go out and shoot
them,” mourned LA/SPCA president
Madeline Bernstein.
The traps were removed due to
“pressure from animal rights activists,”
Felosky told the San Diego U n i o n –

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