2011-07-21 / Front Page

Coyote traps in urban area cause concern

By Sylvie Belmond


BORN FREE—Local coyote sightings like the one above are common. Officials in Calabasas recently called a halt to the use of coyote traps within city limits. Speakers told the City Council that the traps were inhumane and that coyotes play an important role in controlling the rodent population. 
Acorn file photo BORN FREE—Local coyote sightings like the one above are common. Officials in Calabasas recently called a halt to the use of coyote traps within city limits. Speakers told the City Council that the traps were inhumane and that coyotes play an important role in controlling the rodent population. Acorn file photo In response to a protest from several residents, Calabasas will temporarily outlaw coyote traps within the city’s boundaries.

Calabasas contracts with Los Angeles County to snare aggressive coyotes, but at a City Council meeting last week, four speakers urged city officials to stop the “cruel and inhumane trapping” of coyotes.

“The animal remains trapped for a day or so in misery and heat until the trapper comes and shoots (it) to death,” said Randi Feilich Hirsch, a board member on the Westridge homeowners association. “This cruel and ineffective trapping seems to be in direct contrast with environmental policies Calabasas prides itself in.”

Coyotes should be protected because they serve a vital ecological role, picking up dead animals and killing rodents, said Feilich Hirsch, who offered to serve on a city committee to teach people how to coexist with wildlife.

Michael Bell, head of the Wildlife Care Center in West Hills, also had qualms about the method used to capture coyotes.

Without coyotes, the number of mice and rats would increase, Bell said.

“They can eat about 20 mice a day. They will go in backyards to take small pets. My answer to that is, if you have an animal, supervise it. The bottom line is you’re the one that’s responsible. You can’t blame the coyote for doing what comes naturally.”

Bell added that his organization, which has rescued more than 10,000 native animals over the past 10 years, helped to stop coyote trapping in Los Angeles.

Christine Renau, who has lived in Calabasas for 28 years, said people should learn to coexist better with nature.

“When I moved into Calabasas way before it was a city, every single night the coyotes would come in. . . . We pretty much moved into their neighborhood. When I hear these coyotes are being brutally trapped in our neighborhood, I oppose that,” she said.

Lou Ann Ferran said the trappings are shocking and saddening. “I really would like to see residents get involved with this to make this city a place where wildlife won’t be threatened by the people who have invaded it,” she said.

Mayor James Bozajian said the council will review the issue to determine whether changes should be made.

“I don’t believe there has been a large (amount) of trapping, but the council asked staff to find out what the activity is,” Bozajian said.

Calabasas refers all calls for animal control service to the county, and the city doesn’t have any specific criteria on how coyotes should be handled.

Ken Pellman, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Agriculture Commissioner, which handles animal trapping in Calabasas, said his agency has only trapped one coyote in Calabasas over the past year.

“The county’s primary goal is to protect human life. We don’t want coyotes attacking people or pets,” Pellman said, adding that traps used by his agency are humane.

“If we find an aggressive coyote, we will find an appropriate place to put a trap, and the animal is held there until an inspector returns. Since coyotes are nocturnal, inspectors come back the next morning,” he said.

Since the California Department of Fish and Game prohibits the relocation of coyotes, captured animals are either euthanized or shot on site.

To keep coyotes wild and away from homes, Pellman said, residents should secure their property and keep food inside.

“If coyotes can stroll on your property and get easy pickings for food, then they’re going to do that.”

Although some people want to get rid of all coyotes, Pellman said the predators shouldn’t be eliminated because they play an important role in the ecosystem.

“There is no way to please everybody. Some people want to get rid of them all and others don’t want to do anything.”

A day after the council’s July 13 meeting, Calabasas City Manager Tony Coroalles announced he would temporarily suspend all new trapping requests in the city pending a policy review by the city’s environmental commission in September.

“I thought it prudent to put trapping on hold for a couple of months and seek the advice of a resident commission. That way there is an opportunity for everyone to voice their opinion,” Coroalles told The Acorn.

Return to top