Laguna’s Coyote Strategy Falls Short of Best Practices

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Editor:

I would like to register my disappointment with your interview with Jim Beres of the Animal Control Department in “New Weapons to Battle Coyote ‘Infestation,’” published Oct. 23.

A number of us who have been deeply concerned about this issue have talked to Jim on numerous occasions and recently attended a meeting he organized in which the city’s coyote expert participated. My concerns are these:

The water-ball guns have been used to some effect in Irvine, but it is clear that with a total of three animal control officers covering all of Laguna Beach and Laguna Woods, the likelihood that an officer and a hungry coyote will show up in the same place at the same time is negligible.

The City of Irvine’s experience also refutes one thing that Mr. Beres said, which is that coyotes are not a threat to humans. Starving coyotes are desperate and have recently attacked children in Irvine.

The city’s coyote expert told us that Laguna’s trapping strategy is not likely to produce meaningful results. Laguna randomly identifies ‘bad’ coyotes for trapping rather than using best practices to thin coyote over-population successfully implemented in other California cities.

Mr. Beres vastly misses the point when he says we simply need to learn to “live with them not against them.” Having lived in Laguna for over 20 years, my wife and I have encountered the occasional coyote. However, Laguna is besieged by a growing number of starving, increasingly aggressive coyotes at all times of the day that ignore traditional hazing methods.

Recently, a coyote killed one of my neighbor’s two small dogs in her own backyard one evening and came back the next evening to kill her other dog. Is this humane — the new normal that Mr. Beres urges us to embrace?

Laguna’s leaders seem to want to BS their way through interviews like this hoping the problem goes away on its own. There are a handful of agitators like myself pushing the city to do more. If more of us do not report coyote sightings, make more noise and push the city harder, officials will continue to treat the coyote infestation as a public relations problem rather than as the public safety problem it is for us, our children and our pets.

Laguna, we can and must do much better.

Charles Birmingham, Laguna Beach

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