The county has removed and killed seven coyotes from Altadena this summer as an increasing number of pet attacks and coyote sightings have been reported in town.
Raymond Smith, of the county's Weed Hazard and Pest Management Bureau, told the public at Tuesday's Altadena Town Council meeting that the county traps and kills the coyotes when they appear to have become a nuisance in the area.
He said that the county will only target and trap the coyotes when officials believes the level of contact between the public and the animals has become too much of a problem. In the long term, people need to be prepared to coexist with the animals, he said.
"Nothing that I can do, or the Sheriff’s Department, or anyone else, is going to get rid of them," Smith said.
He said the program to trap and kill the animals will continue until the department believes they are no longer a problem for Altadena residents.
One resident of the Meadows, MaryEllen Schoeman, who is a wildlife rehabilitator, spoke at the meeting against the county's policy.
"Trapping, with all due respect, does not work," Schoeman said. Once an animal is removed, another animal tends to fill the void, she said.
"If you are lucky it is another coyote...if you are unlucky it is a mountain lion."
Schoeman, who works at Animal Advocates, told Altadena Patch after the meeting she works rehabilitating coyotes who lose their parents, releasing them in the wild up in the mountains.
An important part of the rehabilitation process is teaching the coyotes to fear humans, which is an unpleasant but necessary task, Schoeman said.
Smith also had the following to say about coyotes:
- Coyotes that establish a den on a resident's property can be removed by the bureau
- Residents should strongly discourage or report anybody who is feeding coyotes
- Residents should not leave out trash or food on their property
- Pets will not be safe behind fencing unless it is very high. Six feet is not high enough.
- Adults should not fear a coyote attack as they only happen in extremely limited circumstances
- This is an unusually strong year for coyotes in the foothills, and the population levels are high. Populations tend to be cyclical so it will not remain this way forever