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Wildlife officials authorize killing of coyotes in Griffith Park after bite incidents


Two recent incidents in which people were bitten by coyotes in Griffith Park have caused wardens to take an unfortunate step: dispatching U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services trappers to kill some of the park's coyotes.

Although the bites occurred weeks apart, both were reported to the California Department of Fish & Game within a short period of time. The first bite occurred in late August, but wildlife authorities learned of it from Los Angeles County health officials only last week.

The second bite happened Wednesday, when a man apparently napping near the park's Travel Town section said he awoke to find a coyote biting his foot. He was not seriously injured, wildlife biologist Kevin Brennan of the Fish and Game department told The Times. 

In response to the incidents, USDA trappers shot and killed seven of the park's coyotes, owing to a policy that coyotes should be captured and killed only in the instance of an imminent threat to public safety.  "Somebody getting bitten is an imminent threat," Brennan told The Times. 

But, our colleague Tony Barboza notes in his article on the subject, authorities do not know if the coyote or coyotes that bit the two park visitors were among the seven killed. (Had the bites been reported in a more timely manner, the victims could have been swabbed to determine the DNA profile of the coyote attacker.  But since DNA evidence was unavailable for either biting incident, no testing can be conducted to determine whether the attacking animal or animals was among the dead.)

While coyote-on-human attacks are relatively rare, the animals often attack pets like cats and small dogs.  (Singer Jessica Simpson's Maltese-poodle mix was recently snatched by a coyote while Simpson watched, horrified.)  Last month, Yorba Linda resorted to hiring a professional trapper to do away with the coyotes that have been entering backyards and making snacks of dogs and cats.  The Times offers these tips for those who live in close proximity to coyotes:

What can I do to keep coyotes out of my yard?

Food and water lure coyotes. Don't leave pet food or water outside. Cover your compost, and keep trash in clean containers with tight-fitting lids. Keep barbecue grills clean, limit the use of bird feeders,and pick up fallen fruit. Install motion-sensitive lighting and coyote-proof fencing if they continue to be pests.

How can I keep my children and pets safe?

Never allow young children to play outside unsupervised. Don't leave pets outdoors unattended, especially cats and small dogs. If you must keep them outside, confine your animals in sturdy kennels at least 6 feet high.

What should I do if a coyote approaches my home?

Immediately take pets and small children inside. Then make loud noises -- perhaps by banging pots and pans together -- or spray the animal with a garden hose, or throw rocks toward it. That probably will drive the coyote away and help it retain its natural wariness of humans.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A coyote in Griffith Park in 2007. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (16)

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This is terrible. How reckless to kill 7 animals, without even knowing if they are the ones involved in the incidents. And, frankly, I find it hard to believe that a coyote was just chewing on a guy's foot. Not believable.

Shame on Fish and Game for being so lazy and shooting indiscriminately. The coyotes who were killed may have not done a thing. This is a disgrace.

Calif Fish & Game only lives to kill. This is the latest asinine thing they've done, but I've documented others. Killing ALL coyotes, when they aren't the RIGHT coyotes is vulgar and disgusting. You know how they do it, right? I've talked with them. They use leg traps, which torture the animals until it is shot. (they shoot because injections are too expensive.) THIS is why you see 3-legged coyotes in Los Feliz & Griffith Park - they chew their own legs off to get out of the trap.

I wish you'd have Anne Cusack take a pic of that.

PS Why do I even bother to look at links in LAT blogs? You are so incestuous, only linking to each other all the time. Talk about insulated.

I have lived in the Hollywood Hills for over 25 years. I have 3 cats and one dog. I know that before the houses were built in the hills that these lands belonged to the coyotes, deer and other wildlife. I respect that and have obeyed the rules such as never keeping your pets or children out unattended. Let us not lynch all the creatures . Whatever is left of the wilderness here has been gouged out by reckless builders and fires started by human beings have pushed these creatures out of their element. Trapping them and killing them are not the answer.

If the coyote had bitten your foot, eaten your pet, or approached your child, you would sing a different tune.

Donna, read the article again, it wasn't DFG that trapped/killed the coyotes, it was Federal trappers.

The officials don't care if they kill the "right" coyotes or not. This is about showing the public that they are allegedly in control of the situation. The lame mentality seems to be if some coyotes are killed the rest will suddenly "behave". The well-documented FACTS are that when you kill a coyote, another one moves in to reclaim its territory. The officials know this. This isn't a solution, its beurocratic posturing.

Too bad the news reporter didn't think to ask what is luring the coyotes into Griffith Park. Is trash and garbage being stowed responsibly and removed promptly? If its anything like the parks here in San Diego, the receptacles are probably overflowing. Is there overwatering going on? Remove the food & water, and the coyotes will go. Logically its that simple. But that would involve humans actually taking responsibility for their actions. Easier to just shoot a couple of coyotes.

The reason this is happening is because people are hand feeding these coyotes, I have personally seen this on numerous occasions ! In the area near Travel town.
Why are there no signs posted "Warning please do not feed the wildlife"
Educating people on how big of a impact you have any time you interact with a wild animal is the way you will solve this problem !

Uh, Dave,
You didn't read my blog, linked above. I know all about the USDA and Fish & Game and the games they play to keep their agencies going. Yeah, they hire USDA to be the killers. They all have blood on their hands.

This response is about as smart as when a gang member gets shot, they go and drive to their rival gangs territory and shoot the first person they see. How could you be so stupid?

How could the Department of Fish and Game be so ignorant? How could they be so bad at their job?

This was a completely pointless ignorant killing spree. I've got news for you Fish and Game, the coyote population in Griffith Park is unique as coyotes have DAILY exposure to humans and have become completely accustomed to humans. If you shot every coyote in Griffith Park who was not afraid of people YOU WOULD KILL EVERY ONE OF THEM. Maybe that's their goal, no more having to deal with the problem.

I have encountered scores of coyotes in Griffith park and they always look at you, see if you have any food to give them, and when you don't just move on. They are absolutely not a threat as long as you are aware of their presence. As long as you don't feed them or leave your babies unattended for an hour or so, YOU ARE NOT GOING TO HAVE A PROBLEM.

If you are feeding coyotes or are sleeping in a wild area you are the problem. Coyotes enforcing city ordinances are not a problem!!!

I have not seen ONE SINGLE SIGN saying DON"T FEED THE ANIMALS either English or Spanish. I have not seen one park ranger DO ANYTHING in Griffith Park other than drive around. Maybe just maybe you would think they would try to implement the most effective proven means of stopping human wildlife contact before just going out and shooting whatever moves, but I guess they just aren't that smart.

Obviously this guy from the Fish and Game is completely ignorant of the situation in Los Angeles and doesn't really care if does a good job or not. This pathetic response taken out of 1779 playbook just makes me sick.

I feel bad for people whose pets get eaten, but the owners should keep them out of harms way...I live in a canyon in Santa Clarita and we have coyotes, bobcats, etc. that share the slopes behind our homes. People are respectful of that, and we haven't ever had a problem with our animals or children being harmed. I've lived here for 20 years.
People should also remember that coyotes and other predators do not kill out of malice, for them it is to survive. It's too bad we can't say the same for the human race.

These coyotes should have been relocated. Why does everyone think killing is the answer!

Many of us live close to these wilderness areas because we like living amongst wildlife - it makes living in Los Angeles special - But if we choose to live here we need to do our part to get along with the wildlife - keep our pets and property properly cared for and there will be no problem - I for one find it hard to believe that a coyote would approach a sleeping human and bite him on the foot for no reason - I've lived in the canyons for years and all the coyotes I've encountered try to avoid humans

I find it completely appalling that on the word of 2 basically uninjured people, 7 coyotes have been senselessly slaughtered.

I am truly upset about this. I see coyotes often because I've been hiking up in Griffith Park daily for nine years, and I've never had any reason to fear for my safety because of them.

There are signs warning us that wild animals live in the park. Why would someone take a nap in that part of the park and then be surprised to see a coyote or other wildlife approach them?

We are the ones encroaching on them. Yes, they snatch dogs and cats, if you aren't careful and even sometimes if you are. That's the price of having a wildlife park near an urban area. And bottom line, it's people's fault that the coyotes get this brazen. I've seen people in the park on the Riverside side (around where the alleged bite took place) feeding coyotes -- no wonder they will walk right up to your car. A few signs educating the public and instructing them NOT to feed coyotes might actually go a long way in stopping that potentially disastrous situation. I have never seen any such signs.

What good does slaughtering 7 coyotes do? If there are too many coyotes, aren't we advanced enough in 2009 to find a way to deal with coyote overpopulation in a humane fashion? Why do the guns have to automatically come out in some knee-jerk reaction?

I mourn for the poor coyotes who lost their lives because humans have yet to learn how to deal with problematic situations in a logical and kind way rather than slaughtering anything that threatens us in the slightest.

This killing spree is a shameful response to a problem caused by humans in the first place. The park is the coyotes home, not ours. We are visitors there and must respect them, not the other way around. It is natural for coyotes to prey on small animals, and if our animals get hurt then we should blame ourselves.

Why have we not seen photographs of these bites that allegedly occurred to the napping man?

No predator should be allowed to live near people. Especially children. Move them or kill them. Oh yea, just in case you wacky lefties miss understand me I am talking about killing the coyote. Not the people. People are just a little more important than a dangerous predator.

I just hiked today at Griffith Park for the very first time and can see and understand why these small attacks have been happening. People are hand feeding the coyotes. People are pulling off the road feeding the coyotes. The coyotes are literally waiting on the sides of the road for any car that slows down. I slowed down to avoid hitting one and it tried to come next to my window. It's totally crazy...noone is doing anything to stop the public from feeding the wildlife there. It's not the coyotes fault, it's the stupid people thinking it's cute and fun to feed them. They're ignorant to the fact that they are causing the coyotes to look to humans for food. So irritating to see what is happening at Griffith Park!!

Also, there is one sign that I saw past the Cafe on the way to the observatory, "Don't Feed the Wildlife"! But People don't listen! The car in front of me on the way up to the observatory waved his hand out the window for me to pass him as he pulled over to feed a coyote. The coyotes are harmless, exactly what the person previously said. If you don't have food and are not trying to feed them but are aware they are there, they will leave you alone. STOP FEEDING THE COYOTES!! YOU ARE NOT HELPING THEM BUT HURTING THEIR EXSISTANCE IN GRIFFITH PARK! ONCE IT GOES BAD...WHICH IT HAS AND WILL GET WORSE...THEY WILL KILL THEM & IT WILL BE YOUR FAULT!!


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