We’re sharing prime real estate with coyotes in the San Gabriel Valley

Categories: PHS Blog

As you all know, the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA recently named a new president and CEO, Dia DuVernet. In just two months, she’s made such a wonderful impact on our organization. I adore her, and I think once you get to know her, you will too.

To that end, I thought it would be cool if I gave her this platform on occasion so you have the opportunity to get to know her voice and perspective on important issues in animal welfare. So why not start now? Here are her thoughts about coexisting peacefully with coyotes and other wildlife:

It’s been two months now since I assumed the role of president and CEO at Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA, and my love for this organization and the community it serves grows every day.

The San Gabriel Valley is new to me. My family and I relocated here from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and I’ve been learning something new everyday. While many of the issues in animal welfare in California and Virginia are similar, some are different.

On my daily walks with my little dog Sueshi, we often run across coyotes in our new neighborhood in the San Rafael Hills. In Virginia Beach, we saw an occasional coyote. It was rare. I’m learning that coyotes are a bigger concern here. My heart goes out to those who have lost their beloved pets to coyotes.

The solutions to sharing the foothills and urban areas with wild animals are not easy. Attempts at relocation have been proven ineffective. State laws prohibit relocation by organizations like PHS without permission from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. And even if it were permitted, a vacuum effect is created in which more coyotes come in to fill the void.

We live in a beautiful region, in neighborhoods with plentiful food sources. For coyotes and other wildlife, it’s prime real estate. If we remove coyotes without addressing what attracts them, then more will come to take their place.

At PHS, we favor humane and legal solutions to coexisting with our wild neighbors. We support a coordinated effort to provide wildlife education and to enforce prohibitions against the feeding of wildlife so we collectively drive the housing values down.

Coyotes generally want to avoid humans as much as we want to avoid them.

When my dog Sueshi and I encounter a coyote, we stand our ground and use hazing techniques to scare the coyote off. I yell and wave my arms, which usually works. Sometimes, I’ll use a whistle or sound maker. The goal here is to remind them to fear humans.

I always walk Sueshi on a short leash. I never allow her outside alone, even though we have an enclosed back patio. It’s not safe for a pet because we do not have “coyote-proof” fencing.

A good way to attract coyotes is to leave food outside. So of course, we don’t do that.

PHS is supporting efforts by the city of Pasadena to approve an Urban Wildlife Management Plan based on science and proven techniques. A number of other cities have done the same.

A coordinated response is needed to effectively educate the public. If we commit as a community to proper hazing and removing food sources, will start to see fewer of our wild neighbors.

Many people mistakenly think PHS is a department of the city government. In fact, the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA is a private, nonprofit donor-supported organization. The city of Pasadena and 10 other surrounding communities contract with us to provide animal control services.

We often receive calls from residents who want us to address coyotes on their property. Our response to wildlife is governed by our contracts with the municipalities, city ordinances and state and federal laws. For healthy coyotes, our response is to scare the animals off if they are still on the property when our officers arrive. We will pick up wildlife if the animal is sick, injured or has bitten a person.

There are many humane alternatives to trapping wild animals, and we are available to assist you. Our outreach staff and humane educators are providing education to families both at the Humane Society and throughout the community. Workshops in August and September at the shelter are already filled to capacity, so we are trying to add more dates to the schedule.

Our website has a wealth of information regarding all types of wildlife, and we encourage you to go to www.pasadenahumane.org to learn more. It’s important to note that while hazing is an effective technique with coyotes because of their skittish nature, hazing does not work for all species of wildlife.

Animal control services and wildlife education are just two of many services we provide to fulfill our mission of compassion and care for all animals.

Our vision is for all companion animals to reside in loving homes and for communities to respectfully coexist with wildlife. To do this, we must all educate ourselves and come together as a community to solve these issues humanely.