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Animals? It's part of living here

September 16, 2011

The brouhaha over a pack of coyotes and their impending demise this week after North Glendale residents complained of their presence to L.A. County officials brought an important lesson to the fore. In a city with several urban areas wedged up against wildland, there’s bound to be turf wars between humans and wildlife.

As the hubbub unfolded, what started as a plan to remove — by trapping and euthanasia — a pack of coyotes that have taken up residence at a vacant, fire-gutted home on Brockmont Drive turned into a public uproar among those believe that the response to wildlife in urban areas shouldn’t be death.

But residents who complain of the threat posed by coyotes to their pets, and possibly even small children, need to realize that the ultimate official response will be just that. Unlike bears or mountain lions, coyotes cannot be simply trapped and relocated in the wild.

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For starters, odds are high that they will simply move into a different urban area. And if they don’t, their sentence is as good as death — experts say that once coyotes become accustomed to urban life, they lose their ability to cope in the wild and will likely die.

Granted, the regional media attention focused on the Brockmont Drive situation isn’t something most neighborhoods have to contend with when moving to eliminate a wildlife threat. But at least the coverage provided a valuable teaching moment for the public.

Coyotes, bears, mountain lions, bobcats, rabbits — these all come with living in so-called bedroom communities nestled against nature, be it the Verdugo Mountains or the Angeles National Forest and several canyons.

Neighborhoods can either learn to cope with those populations, or not. But in the case of the latter, it should be clear, especially after this week, what that could entail.

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