Wildlife Activists Have a Bone to Pick With Torrance’s Coyote Trapping Program

Wildlife activists are upset about a program in Torrance, Calif. that turns the table on the region’s coyotes, transforming them from hunter to hunted.

It all started with a rash of pet deaths in the area. Over the past four months, 60 cats or dogs have been killed in increasingly brazen coyote attacks. In one instance, a coyote scaled a 6-foot fence to grab a small dog from a house not far from Torrance City Hall. Other residents have reported coyote strikes while walking their dogs.

The prevalence, as well as the increased viciousness, recently prompted the city to act. Torrance contracted with a company to have the animals trapped and killed, despite the objections of animal rights activists and some residents in the area.

“There are more humane ways of dealing with the coyote population,” said Angelique Gettle of the Union Members for the Preservation of Wildlife. “They were here before we were here.”

Gettle and others gathered outside the Madrona Marsh Preserve last week to protest the city’s plan. The problem is, the alternative that many of them would like to see—relocation—is prohibited by California law.

Like nearly everything these days, some believe the coyote problem can be chalked up to the state’s drought. As the animals become more desperate for food and water, nothing is outside the realm of possibility anymore. Experts, however, believe acclimation has played an even larger role. Coyotes simply don’t fear humans the way that they used to, given years of increased exposure.

Torrance isn’t alone. Trap-and-kill programs have been adopted in Seal Beach and Huntington Beach, where the situation has gotten out of control. In Silver Lake, some mysterious vigilante has actually been going around shooting the animals.

Meanwhile, a string of sightings in San Pedro has prompted Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino to call for changes to the city’s wildlife management program. A recent report he requested from the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services recommends staying the course, however. Instead of enacting trap-and-kill or relocation programs, it said residents should be better educated about ways to keep the predators at bay.

Image Credit: Flickr User larry1732, https://flic.kr/p/5dHKcd via (CC BY 2.0)


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