Project Coyote

Coyotes Win in California

In a major victory for coyotes, the City of Calabasas in Southern California passed a resolution in December barring the use of city funds to kill the wild canine. The city will adopt a new coyote-management plan this year that shifts the focus from killing to educated coexistence.

photo of a coyotephoto John Morgan

The resolution follows months of campaigning by local residents, animal lovers, and Earth Island Institute’s Project Coyote. The issue gained momentum last summer when Calabasas resident Randi Feilich Hirsch learned that the city – an affluent community of about 20,000 people on the northwest edge of Los Angeles – trapped and killed coyotes whenever they received a “coyote abatement” request from homeowners who spotted the animal on or around their property.

A horrified Hirsch contacted Project Coyote for assistance. Camilla Fox, the project’s executive director, and wildlife consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), worked with Hirsch to present information to the city about the ineffectiveness of killing coyotes and the cruelty of strangulation neck snares – a tool commonly used to kill coyotes. Fox spoke to the city council about how this was neither an effective nor humane solution to reducing real or perceived conflicts between people, domestic animals, and coyotes.

The two women mobilized local residents, engaged the National Park Service, and worked with city officials to develop an alternative coyote-management approach based on the idea of accepting coyotes as natural neighbors.

Project Coyote and AWI also worked with to generate more than 9,000 online signatures calling for a permanent ban on city-funded coyote killing and adoption of a humane coyote-management plan. Fox then worked closely with the city in creating a model plan, which the Calabasas city council unanimously adopted on December 14.

The new management plan focuses on ways to minimize negative interactions between coyotes and humans. It emphasizes long-term education and implementation of hazing (or “fear conditioning”) instead of trapping and killing.

Hirsch says their movement’s success “shows that concerned citizens can speak up at the local level and make changes in city policy.”

Calabasas mayor pro tem, Mary Sue Maurer, urged “all Californians who live alongside coyotes to learn more about these wondrous creatures and about ways we can coexist together.”

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