West Hollywood West Struggles With a Coyote Invasion

Coyote on Norwich

West Hollywood is known for being dog-friendly. But as much as we love our dogs, now local residents are struggling to find a way to deal with a different branch of the canine species that is roaming our streets (and backyards).

That branch is canis latrans, better known as coyotes.

For reasons that are unclear, the recent influx of coyotes is concentrated in the West Hollywood West neighborhood. A similar coyote invasion occurred on the city’s Eastside in the summer of 2017. Residents of West Hollywood West have reported seeing coyotes on streets such as Rosewood, Huntley, Dorrington, Almont and Ashcroft, to name a few.

Coyote on Ashcroft

“It’s scaring a lot of people out there,” said Manny Rodriguez, a resident of West Hollywood West. “They are concerned, scared. This is an urban environment. People actually walk the sidewalks and have secured backyards. To see these wild animals is very disconcerting.”

Residents are especially concerned that coyotes might attack small dogs and cats. While some people have expressed fear that they might be attached, such attacks are said to be rare, with only one human fatality reported in California’s history.

Rodriguez said the coyotes seem to cluster on lots that are unoccupied and not properly fenced. He cited 537 Huntley as one example. The empty lot seems to be a place where coyotes have created dens, Rodriguez said. “ … It’s a stalled construction of a two-story house and for some reason there’s no fence around it. It’s just a hedge that you can walk through.”

The Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control estimates there are between 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes living in California, and dealing with them isn’t easy. For example, state law bars residents from trapping coyotes and relocating them. And while some cities such as Torrance have hired licensed pest control experts to trap and euthanize coyotes, that’s an approach that’s likely to upset animal rights activists.

In an attempt to deal with the issue, the West Hollywood City Council in October 2017 approved a proposal by Councilmember Lindsey Horvath to ask city staffers to create to a coyote management plan that would include “management goals, information on coyote behavior, management strategies, recommended responses to coyote encounters and attacks, and other pertinent information.”

Coyote on Ashcroft

Attached to that proposal was a “coyote management and coexistence plan” developed by the Humane Society of the United States, which other cities have used to develop their plans for dealing with the animals.

A memo accompanying Horvath’s proposal noted that “coyotes fill a unique niche in the ecology of Southern California. Hikers, outdoors enthusiasts, and those who live near mountains and foothills have likely encountered the small, thin dog-like creatures at least once. However, unlike bobcats, pumas, and other carnivores, coyotes are extremely well-suited to living in urban environments. Coyotes can scavenge and survive on almost any food source, including garbage, fallen fruit, small mammals and reptiles, and, sadly, domestic pets.”

So the best bet is to remove what attracts coyotes. “They generally hunt small mammals such as mice, rats, voles, rabbits and prairie dogs, but will also eat fruit and berries and will even scavenge road-killed animals,” the Humane Society report states. “In urban areas, coyotes are also known to eat pet food, unsecured garbage and compost. They may also prey on unattended domestic pets such as cats and small dogs if given the opportunity by draining standing water and removing food and garbage waste as well as not leaving small pets in a backyard where they are vulnerable to attack.”

Coyote on Huntley

Trapping and killing coyotes isn’t effective, the report says. “Because coyotes are so intelligent arid wary of human scent, it is very difficult to catch any coyote in a trap, never mind the problem- causing coyote. Research has shown that when lethally controlled, coyotes exhibit a ‘rebound effect’ (a surge in their reproductive rates), allowing for quick regeneration of their population numbers. The disruption of their family group structure leads to an increase in the number of females breeding in the population, and the increase in available resources leads to larger litter sizes, earlier breeding ages among females and higher survival rates among pups. “

The Humane Society report does recommend implementing a leash law and monetary fine for off-leash dogs to avoid “problematic behavior that could lead to coyote-pet conflicts. Residents should be instructed to keep pets on a leash six feet long or less.”

And it also suggests banning the feeding of wildlife (with exceptions for bird feeders).

When confronted by a coyote, which is unusual given their skittishness, the Humane Society recommends “hazing” to scare them away.

Basic hazing means facing the coyote and being “big and loud,” the report states. You do that by waving your arms over your head, making loud noises with whistles, air horns, megaphones, soda cans filled with pennies, pots and pans or squirting the coyote with water until the coyote chooses to leave.

Then there is high-intensity hazing, recommended only for trained animal control officers and law enforcement officers. That involves “approaching the animal quickly and aggressively, throwing projectiles, paint balls, pepper balls, sling shots, clay pellets or pepper spray at the coyote.”


15 Comments
  1. https://www.wehoville.com/2018/11/27/west-hollywood-west-struggles-coyote-invasion/

    Dear all,

    Re: Coyotes in WeHo:

    Having lived with coyotes in hillside homes over 3 decades out in Echo Park/Silver Lake, now also with new generation of dogs in West Hollywood West, please note that coyotes are part of the LA urban fabric. You cannot kill or deport them. They are part of our lives. If you don’t like it, move. Meanwhile learn to clap your hands if (rarely) approached by a coyote. They are more afraid of us than we are afraid of them. And yes, keep your pets indoors if your outside space is not impervious to coyote invasion, which is unlikely since they sleep all day and roam and howl all night.

    Ty Geltmaker/James Rosen
    8742 Rangely Ave. 90048

  2. When I heard new reports of coyotes on the Eastside last year, I knew we had to take action as a City. Now that the coyotes have also made their way to the Westside, it’s important that we are reminded of, and have the best information on, how to keep our neighborhoods safe.
    The City adopted a policy that reflects our values on animal rights but also (and importantly!) keeps people and pets safe. As mentioned in this article from our plan:
    Hazing is an activity or series of activities that is conducted in an attempt to change behaviors of habituated coyotes and/or to re-instill a healthy fear of people in the local coyote population. Hazing techniques include generating loud noises, spraying water, shining bright lights, throwing objects, shouting, etc. Hazing can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and deter them from neighborhood spaces such as backyards, greenbelts and play spaces. A hazing program encourages the use of harassing actions without employing weapons or causing bodily harm to the coyote. The more often an individual animal is hazed, the more effective hazing is in changing coyote behavior. Being highly intelligent animals, coyotes who are hazed quickly learn to avoid neighborhoods, people, and pets.
    The goals of hazing are to:
    • Reverse the habituation of coyotes to people, teaching them to once again fear and avoid humans
    • Discourage coyotes from entering public areas such as parks, playgrounds and yards when people are
    present
    • Discourage coyotes from approaching people and pets
    • Empower residents by giving them tools to use when they encounter a coyote, thereby reducing their
    fear of coyotes
    • Increase awareness about coyote behavior among residents and involve the community in coyote
    management efforts
    Basic hazing: Consists of directly facing the coyote and being “big and loud” by waving your arms over your head, making loud noises or squirting the coyote with water until the coyote(s) chooses to leave. Using a variety of different hazing tools is critical because coyotes can become desensitized to the continued use of just one technique, sound or action. Basic hazing can be performed by anyone and includes the following techniques:
    • Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote
    • Making loud noises with whistles, air horns, megaphones, soda cans filled with pennies, pots and pans
    • Throwing projectiles such as sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls at the direction of the
    coyote
    • Squirting water from a hose, water gun or spray bottle (with vinegar water)
    High-intensity hazing: Consists of approaching the animal quickly and aggressively, throwing projectiles, paint balls, pepper balls, sling shots, clay pellets or pepper spray at the coyote. High-intensity hazing should only be carried out by trained professionals such as animal control and police officers. High-intensity hazing should be used in specific areas and only in response to more egregious incidents.

    You can review the details of the entire plan here: https://www.weho.org/services/animal-care-and-control
    Notably, we do not euthanize coyotes that have found their way to WeHo. And we actually do not have the authority to remove coyotes, even with the intention of humanely relocating them.
    Below is the contact info for the LA County Dept. of Agriculture. They are the agency with primary jurisdiction over the wildlife found throughout LA County. The City encourages residents to report coyote sightings to them directly, and our Code Compliance division is in regular contact with them about these reports.
    LA County Dept. of Agriculture
    (626) 575-5462
    email: whpm@acwm.lacounty.gov

    1. Excellent remedies Lindsey, thank you.

      Additionally, folks should be as aware of coyotes as they would be about anything else one is likely to encounter on the streets and landscape of WeHo be it 4 legged or two. That would be walking without one’s nose in a phone and/or earbuds cancelling out peripheral noise. Taking personal responsibility for one’s self can help anticipate and avoid issues.

      It would be also nice to observe learn about the wildlife that share our environment. It can be clarifying after a stressful day.

  3. I read this article at night. My last walk with my dog is around 11:30 PM. I took her out, and even with a high power flashlight, my mind kept thinking there was a coyote in a bush. I cut the walk short and too her home. Scooters during the day, and coyotes at night. STOP THE INSANITY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. The City’s laissez-faire approach to coyotes needs to change. At first I thought it was interesting to see one coyote late at night on my street. No longer. Coyotes have been coming into my completely fenced in property for the last 4-5 nights. I have a dog I’m afraid to let use the doggy door after dark. Obviously, this is happening all over West Hollywood West and beyond.
    Perhaps the City’s official approach to coyotes worked in the past when there were only isolated and infrequent sightings. But this is happening at many homes every night. We need the City’s help!

    1. Tonight I just encountered a coyote fire the 3rd time while I was walking my dog. I am so scared for my dog. I don’t have a patio in my building so I need to take my dog outside. This is getting to dangerous

  5. Is there confirmation of coyote dens 527 Huntley? If so, has animal control visited and has the city asked the owner to install fencing?

  6. Oh, I can’t wait to bring my pet coyote into our supermarkets. Maybe he will deter and eliminate (in a non harmfull manner, just by his presence) all of the dogs now brought into supermarkets by their incredibly self-entitled owners.

  7. I’ve personally encountered the pack of very brazen and adapted Coyotes living in the neighborhood mentioned in this article. The issue has been going on for over 6 weeks. It has been brought up to Lauren Meister, the Sheriff and has all the neighborhood in a frenzy.

    While I appreciate Lindsey’s proposal, we need someone to step up with a humane solution that is more instantaneous and less beaurocratic.

  8. This is a useful article which has some sensible and humane ways we can safely roam in the natural habitat of these beautiful creatures. They roam “our” streets which we built on their land. They encroach on gated backyards, which restricted access deprives them of their freedom to their lands. The biggest point the article misses is that throughout the entire Southern California region, from the border with Mexico to Santa Barbara and extending out to the Inland Empire and High Desert, we have overdeveloped in the mountains and foothills and have displaced wildlife in the process.

    I’ve encountered coyotes many times in my early morning walks, and at other times. They stop and stare and move on. I’m more fearful of aggressive domesticated animals who are not kept on leash.

    In a city that treats the homeless as invisible creatures, it will come as no surprise to me that there will be increasing NIMBYism against wildlife. Kudos to Councilmember Horvath for putting forth a proposal which directs staff to develop plans to co-exist with nature, rather than fight it off. However, I fear the word manage which also appears in the directive. I hope we don’t follow the shameful policy of the city of Torrance where management includes euthanizing coyotes.

  9. Coyotes, like cockroaches, are highly adaptive creatures and will most likely outlive the human race which, in spite of the great gift of Reason, seems to have a very loose grip on reality and the instincts for survival. I vote the coyote as the city’s mascot – for a variety of reasons.

    1. Yes! Coyotes as a West Hollywood mascot. They are not wild packs but rather solitary or travel in twos. A family may constitute someone’s version of a pack but it is incorrect, it may be Mom and her pups. Here is an opportunity to learn about the living world around us and how to adapt to and respect it.

      There are far more dangerous types on two legs running around West Hollywood on drink, drugs and with questionable dispositions.

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