coyote sightings. Many of us have seen one or two coyotes on the streets
in daylight. They are reported to display no fear of people. The
following report from the Record Ledger, Sept. 10, 1981, seems
particularly interesting after conversations about wild critters.
The author, Jim Timmermann, writes: "In the wake of the killing of a
3-year-old girl two weeks ago, local residents expressed caution but no
panic about coyotes in the foothills." A child killed by a coyote?
Residents of La Tuna Canyon and Verdugo Hills had been aware of pet
attacks by coyotes, but never before had anyone heard about an attack on
a human. By about 1975, the coyote problem had become serious, with packs
of animals jumping fences and attacking pets. At that tine the city
personnel would trap them and that year did catch three. Even though one
animal regulation officer, who had responded to citizens' cry for help,
had captured more than 400 coyotes during his tenure, he had never been
attacked. The attack on the child had been in aberration.
The official from the Animal Regulation Department in 1981, the one
and only person to deal with wildlife, was responding to 200 coyote calls
a year at that time, most during summer. He said he had never heard of a
coyote attacking any person.
There was also an incident reported a few years ago in which two young
women were riding horses in the wash, accompanied by their dogs, when a
pack of coyotes began to attack the dogs. The coyotes were driven off,
but the women were pretty shaky.
The animal regulation officer at the time of the 1981 article warned that "once you start feeding a wild animal, you start getting him over
his fear of human beings. You're just inviting trouble."
Coyotes eat rodents, lizards, small birds, fruits, berries, nuts and
almost anything they can find. Their intelligence accounts for their
ability to survive even though their natural habitat has been encroached
upon. Once they have killed a cat or dog they realize how much more
substantial a meal it is than a rat.
Once in a while there is an explosion in the coyote population.
Trapping is difficult because the animals don't easily walk into a trap.
During times of overpopulation, it is necessary to watch pets carefully.
We are still surrounded by wildlife as anyone who has spotted a
rattler can tell us. But we are quite safe today. Gophers still sometimes
get the upper hand as our prized plants wiggle down, down, down. Rabbits
delight in our lettuce and peas, and even deer are still coming into
yards to much.
Except for the neighbor's dog and fast drivers, a walk down the street
these days is a far sight safer than it was in the '40s, '30s and
We like the wild creatures for the most part. There is that special
thrill to hear the coyotes calling during the night when sirens scream
by. Rabbits are cute. We can just hope that we leave enough room for
nature to be natural so we can enjoy those calls and enjoy the sight of
small wild animals.
* MARLENE HITT