But he said that the targeted trapping practiced by Rizzo is effective -- and often residents' only option once coyotes have become aggressive. The snaring re-instills the fear of humans, he added. Because coyotes are so communicative, word gets out.
Animal rights groups vehemently disagree. Sean Guinan, urban wildlife coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States, said snaring has little effect and is cruel and indiscriminate. The snares don't necessarily catch the problem coyote, might trap dogs and other animals and can cause an excruciating death by strangulation.
"It doesn't resolve conflicts," he said. "It's a knee-jerk reaction to a non-problem."
On Jan. 2, Guinan sent a letter to the Huntington Library demanding it stop its semiannual trapping or it would notify the media and the Humane Society's 1.2 million members in California. He said the library can take other measures: removing food, clearing brush, educating the public about coyotes and hazing troublesome animals with loud noises, aggressive behavior, even paint guns.
The Huntington said it is taking other measures. It is are also sticking with Rizzo.
Rizzo comes back to Redlands the next day to check his traps. Nothing.
He grabs a game call from the truck, stands on the ridge and lets out the staccato yelp of a wounded cottontail rabbit. The sound pierces the cold, crystalline air and reverberates off the canyon walls. If coyotes are around, they'll come running.
None do. Coyotes travel long distances and might vanish from a spot for a week at a time.
But they always come back.
A week after he set the traps, they do. He loads up his truck at his home in Lake Forest and rolls out. From the opposite side of the canyon, he can see his quarry. One dead coyote and one sitting -- panting and looking straight at Rizzo, very much aware of its predicament. It has dug deep holes trying to hide. It's got no chance.
Rizzo descends upon it as quiet and resolute as the Angel of Death.
The animal hisses and rears up as he approaches. Phoebe barks and wheezes behind the fence. The trapped coyote whips around violently on the 7 feet of cable. It is small and wiry, 25 pounds of gristle, fur and teeth. Rizzo strides up with a dog-catcher's pole and pins the writhing animal down. When Rizzo puts a blanket over its head, it stops moving. He takes a needle and injects it in a leg.
He walks over to the dead coyote, cuts it from the snare and hurls it into the canyon for the scavengers.
He returns to the other coyote, which is still breathing but no longer conscious. He cuts the snare off and admires the animal's thick coat.
"All that expensive dog food has the same effect on coyotes as it does on dogs," he says.
He puts the animal into the Hefty bag and heads off to the next call.
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