Guide to Wild Animal Encounters, Management, Goes Before City Committee Today

Published : Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | 4:43 AM

A guidance plan for interactions with wildlife and other issues related to living at the “urban interface” with nature is before the City’s Public Safety Committee for approval on Wednesday.

The Urban Wildlife Management Plan has been working its way through the City’s process since January. The committee today will be considering a final draft of the document produced by the Public Health Department.

The plan doesn’t supersede existing laws addressing matters of wildlife, nor does it establish regulations or set penalties for failing to follow them.

The plan’s real purpose is to provide city staff with some guidance in interacting with wildlife and in educating the public about what works and what doesn’t in such cases.

What kind of guidance?

For example, there is a chart that classifies coyote behavior, gives it a threat level color, and recommends a response.

So, if a coyote is seen moving or resting in an area, that is dubbed a “sighting,” given a threat level of green for low, and a recommendation to call the Citizen Service Center. If a coyote appears injured, that would be classified as an “encounter,” registering a yellow threat level, and a recommendation to call the Pasadena Humane Society (PHS).

The plan provides definitions, so that the city workers and residents alike know what they are looking at in order to conjure the proper response.

As another example, “Threat Incident” means an interaction between a human and a coyote where the coyote approaches, growls, bares its teeth, nips but does not bite, or lunges.

There is guidance on interacting with everything from cougars to bats, but make no mistake, that most adaptable of species, the coyote, is star of report.

The primary message is that humans, under no circumstances, should feed wild animals and by wild animals they are talking about coyotes, bears, cougars and anything else that doesn’t sleep on a cushion in the corner of the den floor.

“Feeding,” the report said, “either intentionally or unintentionally, can attract wildlife and their prey to an area leading to an increased likelihood of creating a habituated wildlife resulting in increases in wildlife-human interactions.”

It is also against state law. The plan authorizes the Pasadena Humane Society, and the Pasadena Police Department, to enforce laws prohibiting wildlife feeding.

The City contracts with PHS to handle domestic stray dogs. As such, some of its services related to pet ownership include applying strategies that minimize the interaction of domestic animals and humans alike to avoid hazards.

PHS records and documents calls for normal wildlife behavior like animal sightings, but does not do field response in such cases. It does respond to calls involving sick and injured coyotes or those jeopardizing public safety.

“PHS is available to advise residents on how to implement prevention measures to minimize interactions with wildlife, and how to keep wildlife wild through hazing,” according to the report.

Hazing is a set of aggressive, but safe, signaling actions humans confronting wildlife can employ, over time, basically to discourage return visits.

If approved by the Public Safety Committee, the plan would move onto the City Council for discussion and a final determination, according to Valerie Flores with the committee.

The Citizen Service Center tracks and records coyote sightings and encounters, 24 hours, seven days a week at (626) 744-7311. Pasadena Humane Society responds to attacks and other aggressive coyote behavior at (626) 792-7151.

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