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City Council Approves Non-Lethal Solutions to Address Coyote Concerns in Pasadena

Published on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 | 5:46 am

The City Council voted unanimously to approve non-lethal solutions to address coyote problems on Monday. 

The Council directed the Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) to increase public outreach and education to promote the culture of hazing, removal of coyote attractants, and compliance with laws prohibiting wildlife feeding; improving local coyote reporting systems and bringing in a panel of coyote experts to improve understanding of effective approaches.

The City will hire a consultant to conduct a field of study where community concerns are heightened; supporting residents to strengthen their properties against coyote intrusion and collaborating with neighboring cities to address coyote concerns. 

More than 30 members of the community spoke against lethal control as an approach to reducing the coyote population. 

That option was not included in the staff recommendations.

“I’m opposed to any lethal control measures for controlling the coyote population,” Alex Rubio, a Pasadena resident, said. “Coyotes play an important ecological role by regulating the population of smaller mammals such as rodents.”

Rubio said eliminating coyotes would disrupt the “ecological balance” leading to potential increases in rodent population, which could result in the spread of diseases carried by rodents such as Hantavirus and Lyme Disease. 

“This is not a coyote problem. This is a human problem,” Pasadena Lauren Hamlet said. “To say that there is an overpopulation of coyotes is not accurate. Coyote populations grow to the size of the carrying capacity of their environment.” 

Hamlet said if there is a huge population of coyotes in the neighborhood, it is because of the residents’ habits, lifestyle and behaviors. 

“I’m shocked that today we are even considering lethal means when we’ve done almost nothing that works,” said resident Dana Levis. 

Levis added that just near the area where residents complain coyotes live, she has found trash overflowing everywhere. “We’re basically inviting coyotes to dinner. We could be doing a lot more about that.” 

“If you vote to strangle and gas coyotes, you’ll cause immense suffering and tarnish the city’s reputation. Surely we don’t want our city labeled as the one that chose to ignore all humane options that work in favor of the cruel ones that don’t,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said.

The City’s current strategy for managing wildlife under the Urban Wildlife Management Plan developed by the Pasadena Public Health Dept., is based on “balancing respect and protection for wildlife while also protecting public safety.” 

Adopted by the City Council in 2019, the plan has a three-pronged approach that includes education of the public, enforcement of laws, and categorization of coyote interactions to correctly identify and respond to threats. 

The plan requires active participation on the part of the entire community including residents, homeowner associations, volunteers, and city personnel.

The plan requires the City of Pasadena Citizen Service Center (CSC) to record and track coyote sightings and encounters. The Pasadena Humane Society (PHS) responds to attacks and aggressive habituated coyote behavior.  

According to Interim Public Health Director Manuel Carmona, there were 159 coyote concerns reported to the CSC in 2022. 12 of them are related to injured or killed pets. 

No person was injured by coyotes in 2022. 

According to PPHD, Torrance is the only city in L.A. County to use lethal control as an approach to reducing the coyote population. 

PPHD did not recommend the adoption of Torrance’s lethal control policy against coyotes since it is ineffective and would only lead to rapid reproduction also known as the “rebound effect,” as per Carmona.

Members of the City Council also expressed opposition to lethal control methods to control the coyote population. 

“I think this is mostly about education and continuing the conversation,” said Councilmember Jason Lyon.

Lyon said residents of Pasadena are ‘incredibly blessed’ to be living in an “urban wilderness” but this also comes with risks and responsibilities.

“I hope we don’t exterminate all our wildlife neighbors as a prophylactic response to fear,” Lyon added. 

“I was really disturbed to see this on the agenda and really kind of saddened. Just from a moral perspective, it seems like animal cruelty to me,” said Vice Mayor Felicia Williams. 

Mayor Victor Gordo, who said there are coyotes in his neighborhood every day, also favors non-lethal means to keep Pasadena safe from coyotes.

“It’s part of what happens when we live so close to foothills,” said Gordo. “I think hiring a consultant to help guide us and include experts would be the way to go.” 

Aside from approving the recommendations of the PPHD to address coyote concerns, the City Council also directed the Parks, Recreation, and Community Services Department to secure trash containers.

“This is a call out to the public. If you see trash cans or situations like that please forward to the city so that they can be addressed,” Gordo added.

The PPHD was directed to return in six months to provide updates. 

Information on coyote sightings and encounters can be submitted using the online reporting system or by calling (626) 744-7311.

The Pasadena Humane Society will continue to respond to attacks and aggressive habituated coyote behavior.  Contact PHS at (626) 792-7151.

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