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Griffith Park users outraged by shooting of 7 coyotes

September 21, 2009 |  3:24 pm


The howls echoing through Griffith Park today are coming from joggers, parents and nannies -- not coyotes. Park visitors are angry with wildlife officials' decision to trap and shoot coyotes in the 4,210-acre mountain park.

Trackers were called in to trap and shoot the animals after two people reported being bitten by coyotes in the park within the last month. Seven coyotes have been killed so far.

“I feel it’s a bit extreme,” said Julie Dusevoir of Valley Village, who was near the park’s merry-go-round with her son Max, 2.

In fact, most humans at the park today are on the coyotes' side.

“I’m strictly opposed to killing them,” said Dimitrios Gatsiounis, a Los Feliz resident who regularly brings his three children -- all under 5 -- to the park to play.

Hikers, joggers, bicyclists and even nannies with young children in tow said there needs to be a better way to deal with coyotes than shooting them.

In the most recent reported encounter, a man who was lying down near the Travel Town area Wednesday night reported waking up to find a coyote biting his foot, said Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist for the California Department of Fish and Game.  The man was not seriously injured, Brennan said.

The trappers were sent in by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, whose policy is to capture and kill coyotes only if there's an imminent threat to public safety.

But because authorities learned of the attacks too late to swab the victims for coyote DNA, they will never know if they nabbed the biter.

-- Bob Pool in Griffith Park

Photo: A jogger starts up the skyline trail Monday morning in Griffith Park. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times