Full House for Public Meeting on Coyotes, Coexist is the Message

Animal Commission Chairwoman Betty Emirhanian, So Pas Sgt. Jim Valencia and Acting Capt. Tom Jacobs. Photo by Steve Whitmore

A town-hall type meeting brought out scores of local residents seeking answers to questions about coyotes because sightings are on the rise as  we enter the mating season of the canis latrans, which translates to “barking dog.”

One thing that was stressed during the evening meeting on Feb. 27 at South Pasadena Public Library’s Community Room was that this is actually coyote territory and we are the intruder, so to speak, and so it’s important to coexist with them, according to officials with the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA.

“It would be important if people felt more empowered to go out in their neighborhoods and talk to their neighbors and talk about how we can work together to co-exist with all wildlife,” Lauren Hamlett, Humane Society’s wildlife coordinator, said before she gave her presentation to the more than 40 people attending the meeting. “Humans are the top of the food chain so need to remind the coyotes to not get too comfortable with us.”

The meeting was hosted by the South Pasadena Animal Commission and Chairwoman Betty Emirhanian, who characterized the meeting as educational.

“We are here to inform the public about living with coyotes,” Emirhanian said during a brief interview before the meeting began. “Coexisting with them because they are not going to go away. There are ways we can protect our pets, protect our families and still live side-by-side with these amazing animals. They are here. They are in very city around us. You can’t corral them and move them somewhere else or kill them because when you do the coyotes that remain just have more litters or coyotes come from other areas and fill in the territory because they are territorial. And so they’ll have more babies or other coyotes will fill in. It doesn’t do any good to try and get rid of them so we have to learn how to live with them.”

There are several things that people can do to coexist with coyotes, according to Jack Hagerman, Humane Society’s vice-president of Communications. Hagerman joined Hamlett during the meeting and said some of those techniques include making yourself big, known as hazing, modifying the property by adding 6-foot -tall fencing along with rollers that make it impossible for the coyotes to scamper over the fence.

“Hazing simply means scaring a coyote away from you, your yard, or your neighborhood,” according to a brochure handed out at the meeting. “Begin by acting ‘big, bad, and loud.’ Make and maintain eye contact. Wave your arms, a stick or a jacket over your head; jump up and down, yell, or throw objects toward, not at, the coyote. The more dominant you act, the better the coyote will get the message that you are something to be afraid of. Keep at it until the coyote leaves.”

Coyotes sightings are increasing because it’s their mating season, according to Hamlett and Hagerman.

The coyote conversation even made into a recent City Council meeting. “I know I’ve seen a lot of postings on Nextdoor,” Councilmember Diana Mahmud said during a Feb. 6 City Council meeting. “People are understandably concerned about coyotes and, unfortunately, the coyotes are particularly aggressive now or they may become particularly aggressive now because this is mating season for coyotes and that will continue into February.”

Nextdoor.com is an internet community bulletin-board where residents post information about South Pasadena. It has been lit up lately with coyote sightings.

A resident posted a video taken from their house showing six coyotes crossing the lawn. It was posted on Jan. 22.

One resident responded, saying she’s on “high alert.”

“I’m new to the area and pretty freaked out by and on high alert [regarding] coyotes,” one posting states. “This is really helpful. As cute as they are…[I am] carrying a whistle on walks and only going out with her during the day but I suspect they are also out in the day.”

Another resident posted the following report.

“Two weeks ago on a Saturday evening at 10:30 p.m. I saw two out together in Monterey Hills, on Via Marisol & Via Mia,” the posting states. “It’s puppy season. If you come across them don’t haze, stay calm and back away slowly. They are out looking for food for their pups and are protective. Be safe everyone! They come out at any time of day. Not just at dawn & dusk.”

Councilmember Michael Cacciotti indicated that Arcadia had a significant problem at one time and instituted an aggressive capture and kill policy that resulted in lawsuits. Arcadia revamped its approach and developed a more humane policy.

“I am so pleased the Animal Commission, together with the Pasadena Humane Society, is presenting this program ‘Coexisting with coyotes,’” Mahmud said in an email to The Review. “We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching reports of missing cats or dogs in our neighborhood – we all need to work together to limit the harm coyotes may do in our community. I strongly encourage all residents that are concerned about coyotes to come to this informative presentation to learn how to change habits that lure and retain coyotes in South Pasadena.”

So Pas Mayor Dr. Marina Khubesrian agreed with her colleagues.

“We’re very pleased to bring a wildlife expert from the Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA to address this issue and offer practical advice for coexisting with coyotes,” Khubesrian said in an email to The Review. “Our region is experiencing more coyote activity because of weather conditions, so it’s important to understand the steps we can take as individuals to protect our property and pets.” 

Mahmud also said the So Pas Animal Commission has been examining the Arcadia Coyote Management policy.

Acting So Pas Police Capt. Tom Jacobs said that the city has been looking at other cities to see what they are doing with the coyote situation.

Jacobs cautioned that the city was in the “very early exploratory” stages of examining coyote management plans from Carlsbad, Long Beach and Arcadia, to name just a few of the plans being studied.

“These cities all have coyote management plans in place,” Jacobs said at the meeting. “Because of that, we’re looking at similar programs to see how they would affect our city or how we could incorporate them in our city. But then again you have San Gabriel Valley looking at an overall management plan as well. At this point, we are deciding which way to go. It gives you a systematic approach to dealing with coyote management. Everything from training citizens to what not to do and what to do, if you encounter a coyote or it encounters you. Different forms of encounters that happen.”

For more information, contact Hamlett or Hagerman at lhamlett@pasadenahumane.org, jhagerman@pasadenahumane.org or www.pasadenahumane.org.