Direction became action in unannounced motion and $20,000 appropriation
Story by Daniel Garay
Photos by Terry Miller / Beacon Media News
A protest against the city council’s unanimous decision to trap coyotes once more took place on Feb. 15 in front of Arcadia City Hall. The protest, led by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), was in opposition to the past and continued use of snare traps to catch coyotes. The animal rights group called the plan “costly, deadly, and ineffective.”
Lisa Lange, Senior Vice President of Communications at PETA, said, “This was a rash and lazy decision. Staff researched that lethal methods do not even work … Spending thousands of dollars on an ineffective plan is not just wasteful, it’s cruel.”
In addition to PETA, a local representative of Project Coyote, Randi Feilich, was also in attendance. “If they choose to live here, they must live with wildlife,” Feilich pointed out. She cited the city ordinances of Los Angeles and Calabasas which ban the use of snare traps.
A letter from PETA sent to Mayor Tom Beck and the City Council on Feb. 9 described the trapping plan “particularly inhumane,” due to the suffering ensued by activating a snare trap, and “indiscriminate,” due to the possibility of ensnaring “nontarget” species.
“The city council’s rash, uninformed decision will sentence countless coyotes and their orphaned pups to slow, agonizing deaths,” says PETA Senior Vice President of Cruelty Investigations Daphna Nachminovitch in a media release.
During the City Council meeting on Feb. 7, City Manager Dominic Lazzaretto presented a report on this subject which the council went over publically. The councilmembers, in addition to being long-time Arcadia residents, know well the nature of coyotes.
City Manager Lazzaretto, the author of the report, admitted that the use of snare trapping was not the most humane way to deal with the situation. The City and PETA both know that due to physical pain and California law, such captures would lead the coyotes to their imminent euthanization.
The City Council discussed the prospect of using cage traps as a way to significantly decrease the amount of suffering. However, coyotes tend to avoid cages and capture would still lead to euthanization. This, in addition to the reported 20 coyotes captured and killed in the 2010 campaign, did not make the situation easier to get behind.
While not slated for a vote, direction in regard to the coyotes became action. An appropriation of $20,000 was voted on in a last minute motion by Councilmember Roger Chandler, doubling the City Manager’s initial assessment of $10,000 for additional education and hiring a trapper. Despite conflicted feelings on the subject by the council, the motion was passed unanimously.
Arcadia resident Donna Selby said, ”I don’t know how they sleep at night… if they don’t know what to do yet, they need to spend more time thinking about it.”
At the long city council meeting, a representative of the Pasadena Humane Society spoke out about the benefits of education and “coyote-proofing” homes as a deterrent.
Mayor Beck, who had reservations about the vote, said in an email to Beacon Media News, “I don’t think trapping will work and it’s inhumane … We have lost 3 ‘house’ cats that we let out briefly in our backyard during the 32 years we have lived in our home. The residents fear for safety is real and I want to find a solution.” A solution that has yet to manifest in the council meeting that went on vigorously for five hours prior to any discussion of the coyote question.
According to a City Manager’s report, $15,000 was appropriated in the 2016/2017 fiscal year budget. By time of the city council meeting on Feb. 7, $10,160 have been spent on a three-pronged approach: mailers sent to each Arcadia residence on how to deal with encounters with coyotes, 3,000 coyote whistles that were given away, as well as a public service campaign on television and social media.
The additional appropriations will go to finding a trapper; two of which made their pitches public in the City Manager’s report, ranging from $200 and $125 per trap location and animal removal, respectively, to $2,500 for “4 to 6 traps per area” for a 10 day period. Lange explained that, “the only people who will benefit from this plan are the trappers.”
Mayor Beck is meeting with the Pasadena Humane Society on Feb. 16 to discuss the issue further, but would not give comment on the protest. Upon hearing this, Lange stated, “This is where coyotes live; we are obligated to live with them… They need to move quickly to halt this killing program.”
One thing all parties agree on is more education on the behavior of coyotes and humans alike is important as a deterrent of the problems residents face. Feilich said, “People need to take responsibility for their homes,” suggesting things like picking up fallen fruit and making sure trash cans are sealed.
More comments by city councilmembers are expected to be made at the City Council meeting on Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m.
At the protest, PETA was collecting names and informing protesters of the meeting time.