California town approves coyote trapping after spike in pet attacks

Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:47pm EDT
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Officials in a Southern California suburb beset by a surge in coyote attacks on pets, including a small dog snatched from its owner's living room, have approved a plan to trap and kill some of the wild canines roaming the town.

The City Council of Seal Beach, a seaside community of about 25,000 residents south of Los Angeles, took the action this week following an uproar over a rise in coyotes venturing into neighborhoods to prey on dogs and cats.

Seal Beach residents have reported 50 pets killed by coyotes so far in 2014, many more than the typical number documented during a single year, Assistant City Manager Patrick Gallegos said on Wednesday.

He said much of the recent coyote activity centered on an apartment complex for retirees, where one woman reported walking back into her home after taking out the trash to find that a coyote had followed her indoors and grabbed her small dog.

"When I turned around, the coyote had her in his mouth and was running out the door," Vicki Young told television station KTLA-TV. "I haven't gotten over it, and I'm not sure that I will, because she was my constant companion."

Gallegos confirmed that account and said other residents had shot video of the normally nocturnal predators, typically wary of humans, running around homes at midday.

"There's a fear of a child getting hurt or a senior breaking her hip because they're trying to protect their pet," he said.

Some experts theorize that construction along an interstate highway has disturbed coyote dens and displaced their natural prey, driving coyotes into more populated areas for food. Persistent regional drought may also be a factor, Gallegos said.   Continued...

A coyote is shown near vegetation in this 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife handout photo released to Reuters September 24, 2014. REUTERS/US Fish and Wildlife Service/Handout via Reuters