Living in coyote country has its dangers, but ‘trap and kill’ is not the answer


A coyote stares and licks its lips as it stands in the front yard of a home in Rialto on Sunday, April 12, 2020. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

One of the first things I learned when I moved to Pasadena from Virginia is that I cannot leave my little dog Sueshi outside without me because — of course — we share our neighborhood with coyotes.

Sueshi and I run into coyotes almost every day on our walks. As you might imagine, I’m an expert hazer. The coyotes run away when I yell “go away” and wave my arms to appear threatening and bigger than my height of 5′ 5.”

Sueshi and I have never had a problem, other than her desire to make friends with the coyotes. She thinks they might like her if they just got to know her. In fact, the coyotes are terrified when my 15-pound dog eagerly tries to approach them with her tail wagging, barking joyfully.

My heart goes out to the handful of people I’ve heard of who have lost their beloved pets to coyotes.

But, when I hear of people who have left their pets unattended in their backyards, it makes me angry. It’s irresponsible pet ownership, especially for those of us living near the arroyo.

Some folks in Pasadena want the city of Pasadena to start trapping and killing coyotes, like the city of Torrance has tried to do for the past four years. That doesn’t make a bit of sense to me.

Since Torrance started their coyote trapping program, the coyote sightings in the city have increased. Also, the citizens of Torrance have paid $256,000 resulting in the trapping of 78 coyotes. That’s a cost of over $3,200 per coyote.

One of the things that concerns me the most, besides being a taxpaying Pasadena resident, is that people will get a false sense of security if the city starts paying to trap and kill coyotes.

There is no way every coyote will be exterminated, no matter how much money is spent. So, people will still need to take care to keep their pets and children safe if Pasadena adopts this misguided approach.

Torrance is the only one of the 88 cities in Los Angeles County that traps and kills coyotes in an attempt to control the coyote population, probably because it simply does not work.

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as science related to coyote reproduction and pack structures, lethal control is not an effective method for reducing human-coyote conflicts.

So, why spend money on something that has already failed elsewhere, when non-lethal methods have been shown to be the most effective, inexpensive and humane form of coyote control?

The snare traps that would likely be used to trap and kill coyotes in Pasadena lead to painful death by strangulation. Unfortunately, coyotes are not the only animals captured by these snare traps. Stray dogs or dogs running off-leash can also be trapped and suffer the same horrific deaths.

At Pasadena Humane, we try to educate people how to coexist peacefully with our wild neighbors. In fact, it’s a core part of our mission of compassion and care for all animals. We speak to a lot of people who don’t want to hear what we have to say…

Install coyote rollers on high fences to keep coyotes out of your yard, especially if you have a swimming pool. Pools are seen as great water sources by coyotes.

Pick up fruit and anything else a coyote might eat. Use wildlife-proof trash cans, do not leave pets or pet food outside unattended, and never feed wildlife.

Please remember to keep pet cats indoors, or in an enclosed cat patio (i.e., “catio”), or even on a harness and leash. Cats are food to coyotes.

If you do spot a coyote, hazing is the best way to avoid an unpleasant encounter.

For more information about peaceful coexistence with wildlife and Pasadena Humane’s wildlife program, please go to

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on July 7, 2023.