Coyotes are one of the most visible signs that Greater Los Angeles is still a wild place. They're known to stroll into some of the densest L.A. neighborhoods — Echo Park, Hollywood, Westlake — and remind us that nature is still boss.
But while residents of foothill communities in the San Gabriel Valley enjoy their proximity to nature, they're not as fond of the coyotes that come with it. After a dog was mauled by a coyote in January, the city of Glendora launched a coyote trap-and-kill program. Last week the Arcadia City Council followed suit, unanimously approving up to $20,000 for a similar program using snare traps.
Animal rights activists are speaking out against the programs. They say snare traps are inhumane — they can impale coyotes and cause a slow death — and that a thin-the-herd approach will backfire.
"Trapping doesn't work because the coyote population will quickly rebound," says Randi Feilich, a volunteer with the nonprofit Project Coyote. "Twelve to 18 months later you'll actually have a larger population."
In 2010 and 2011, Arcadia instituted a similar trapping program. Twenty coyotes were killed in that effort, according to a city report. Officials in Arcadia say they now receive about three to five complaints about coyotes each month.
Arcadia also faces the wrath of animal rights group PETA, which plans to demonstrate outside City Hall at noon. "We live in an area where we are obligated to share the hills," says the nonprofit's senior vice president for communications, Lisa Lange. "This is abject cruelty, and it doesn't work."
State law says that, unless immediately released, trapped animals like coyotes must be killed. Unmanned snare traps don't give them a chance. Additionally, critics say that such traps ensnare pets and other animals indiscriminately. Declaring them inhumane, the city of L.A. banned snare traps in 2014.
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Animal rights activists want the Arcadia City Council to rescind its vote and focus on more humane ways of controlling the coyote population. Project Coyote recommends that foothill residents stop feeding pets outdoors, make sure fallen fruit is picked up and secure their garbage cans.
"We think Arcadia's plan is awful," Feilich says. "We're urging the city to move forward with a coyote coexistence plan."