By Katta Hules
Coyotes are becoming a problem in Arcadia. Individual animals and packs are being sighted with more frequency, causing concern. “Coyotes roaming the streets ha[ve] been a problem for decades in Arcadia,” says Mayor Tom Beck.
Beck has experienced coyotes firsthand. “I walk a lot, so I observe coyotes walking down the street, in broad daylight.” Once he was walking down Santa Anita Avenue by Virginia Road in the early evening and encountered a pack of eight coyotes. “When you get a pack then you get the pack mentality so I was concerned, but I ran at them and yelled and they ran across the street because they’re fearful … if you act aggressive towards them” it is usually effective, he says.
“It’s something that we’re going to keep an eye on because it seems like there’s a little bit more coyote activity now,” says Beck, positing the recent uptick might be related to the drought. “Once they know that they can find a food source in a neighborhood, they continue to roam those neighborhoods where they’ve found small animals and garbage.” He suggests another part of the problem may come from the high level of unoccupied homes in the city, which he calls more than “we’ve ever had in Arcadia.” If a pack learns of an unoccupied yard or home where they can set up a den, they would likely move in, he says.
The mayor says this problem is not restricted to north Arcadia or even just the city, pointing out Torrance has started trapping coyotes and Irvine had an incident where a child was bitten. “It’s kind of a regional problem that we all need to deal with.”
However, coyote attacks are not common and rarely fatal. There are only two recorded human deaths from coyotes in the US and Canada ever, according to the Humane Society. Comparatively, just last year there were 34 fatal dog attacks according to Dogsbite.org, an independent dog statistics site, and dogexpert.com, the website of renowned dog bite expert Richard H. Polsky. “You’re more likely to be bit by a dog as you walk down the street than a coyote. Dogs aren’t afraid of people like coyotes are afraid of people,” says Beck.
The city is aware of the problem and working to combat it. It has allocated $15,000 towards dealing with the coyotes, providing coyotes whistles and educating residents. “What we’re trying to do is take away the food source from the coyotes so they’ll venture in another direction. That is, denying them access to pet food and garbage that may be put out too early in the garbage cans,” says Beck.
The city has sent out thousands of flyers and put information on its website about how to deal with coyotes. If approached, the city suggests making yourself “as big, mean, and loud as you can,” and get any children or pets out of the way. It also gives instructions for building simple noisemakers and deterrents such as coyote shakers (pennies in a can), can clangers (cans on a string), and coyote rollers (rolling pipes at the top of fences to deter climbing). “I would not leave unsupervised children or pets out because coyotes can jump fences and get into yards,” says Beck.
In the past, the city has resorted to trapping coyotes – “Which really means euthanizing the trapped coyotes, because they don’t relocate them,” says Beck, adding, “there was a lot of protest at the time. Obviously it didn’t solve the problem.” He hopes they will not have to return to these methods. “I’m not sure trapping would solve it, but we’re at a difficult balancing point where we want to not wait until somebody gets hurt, but on the other hand, attack the problem and deal with it as best we can.”
The city will “continue to monitor it and do what we need to do.”
“We’re aware of the problem and we’re dealing with the problem and we’re going to stay vigilant … and we’re hoping that our education campaign gets us to the point where this does not continue to be a problem in Arcadia,” says Beck. He also urges anyone feeling threatened by an animal or having an emergency situation with one to call the police or 911.
The Arcadia Police Department has a working relationship with the fish and game department to help address these issues. The police department can be reached at (626) 574-5151. More information can be found at www.arcadiaca.gov/residents/living-with-wildlife.