Readers React: In praise of the intelligent, indestructible L.A. coyote
To the editor: As a veterinarian who has practiced for 42 years and has lived in the canyon areas, I agree with the editorial board that efforts to trap and relocate urban coyotes are futile.
I have extensive experience treating wounded coyotes, observing them in their environment and studying the literature on “God’s dog” (named reverentially by some southwestern Native Americans). Trapping is ineffective, as only less intelligent coyotes can be caught, skewing the gene pool in favor of smarter ones.
Also, female coyotes can adjust their litter size to the degree of replenishing the population and the carrying capacity of their environment. As the most intelligent animal carnivore in the U.S., the coyote will remain with us in an urbanized milieu and continue to thrive here.
John B. Winters, Beverly Hills
To the editor: The editorial board dismisses concerns about coyotes killing cats and dogs. If you had a dog who was killed, you would have a different attitude.
Coyotes will jump a fence in broad daylight and kill and take a dog or cat, even with people around. Hazing them doesn’t work — I’ve tried it. They follow people walking their 100-pound dogs.
I love all animals, but unfortunately it is getting too crowded for people, pets and coyotes. I don’t agree with trap and release because of the reasons you pointed out, but there is another solution. People are just too chicken to say it.
Kristin Fertschneider, Fontana
To the editor: The suggestion that coyotes are “more likely” to eat cats as roadkill is perplexing. Coyotes kill free-roaming cats, and keeping cat numbers low is a well-documented benefit to the ecosystem from coyote presence.
The opportunity to let the public know that they shouldn’t feed stray and feral cats was lost. Not feeding stray and feral cats and keeping areas clean of refuse that would be food for both free-roaming cats and coyotes is the best piece of advice that could be given to reduce risk of both typhus (fleas from stray and feral cats are implicated in transmission to humans) and conflicts with coyotes.
My field research with trail cameras in Baldwin Hills shows that coyotes are attracted to feral cat feeding locations, so stopping that practice would be the best first step to manage the conflicts that members of the L.A. City Council want to reduce.
Travis Longcore, Los Angeles
The writer is an urban ecologist and professor of spatial sciences at USC.
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