- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The reporter spoke with Robert Timm, UC Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist emeritus and a coyote expert.
"We all have a soft spot in our hearts for wildlife, it's why many of us went into the field," Timm said. However, left unchecked, coyotes kill pet cats and dogs, and even pose a threat to humans. "It's a very contentious issue and not an easy one to deal with. ... We all have our individual feelings about it and it's hard to separate that from what we know scientifically."
Coyotes have been making their way into Southern California suburbs since the 1970s, mostly living in the shadows. But when they become habituated to humans, conflicts can arise. Current management practices rely on deterrence and hazing. But when that isn't enough, trapping and removing some problem coyotes appears to send a message to the rest of the coyotes in the neighborhood, Timm said.
"If there are problem coyotes reported in a specific area and you go in and remove a few, it seems to wise up the rest of the coyotes and make them wary of people," Timm said.
However, many advocacy groups lobby against any kind of coyote management that uses traps or euthanization. Relocation of animals is illegal in California.
The coyote issue, Timm said, is fraught with emotion.