Community Editorial: Coyotes Are Given the Death Sentence in OC

Coyote roller
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Coyotes were again given the death sentence in Orange County…this time at the Seal Beach city council meeting on Monday.

When I arrived to attend the meeting, news media trucks from all the major television networks were lined up along the street in front of the city administration buildings, cameras and all. I thought the “sky was falling”! No, the “news” of the night was the agenda item for the City Council meeting, coyotes.

Just down the street, a memorial was being held by the owners who had lost their beloved pets to the coyotes…with media cameras rolling.

During the meeting public comments period, citizens described their experiences with the coyotes in their neighborhoods and the loss of their pets.

Wildlife expert Randi Feilch, the Southern California representative from Project Coyote also spoke and gave recommendations on how we could co-exist with coyotes, such as installing a “coyote roller” which has been successful in preventing coyotes from climbing into backyards. The citizens would not have any of it. They did not want to co-exist… they wanted the coyotes killed!

On October 23, 2013, my editorial was on the subject of the coyote issue …..then in Garden Grove. “Physics tells us that nature abhors a vacuum. If the Garden Grove coyotes are killed, it would only be a temporary solution. Experts say they will likely return.” Feilich reiterated similar information at the Seal Beach city council meeting.

It’s an injustice to punish the coyotes for incidents brought upon by human beings. You’ve heard it before, we have encroached on their habitat. We are told not to feed them, yet we have left pet food dishes outdoors and we “lure” them into our neighborhoods by allowing our pet cats outdoors to roam unattended which is essentially “feeding” the coyotes.

Long before the coyotes became an issue, I was advised to keep my cat indoors due to traffic, disease, possible cat fights or animal abuse by “sick” individuals.

As a shelter volunteer many years ago, I recommended to prospective adopters to take similar safety precautions as you would a small child. We want our children to be free and happy but because we love them we impose restrictions to keep them safe. “So please put restrictions on your cat and do not let him outdoors unattended,” I would advise.

With the help of one other person, I actually made an outdoor cat closure for my cats myself so they could enjoy the fresh air and still be safe… and pet enclosure kits are also available for sale.

Orange County Animal Shelter Director, Ryan Drabek, cites the county ordnance Sec. 4-1-45 which stipulates a walking leash for your dog must be no longer than six feet and reads in part:

“…No person owning or having charge, care, custody, or control of any dog shall cause or permit, either willfully or through failure to exercise due care or control, any such dog to be upon any public property unless such dog be restrained by a substantial chain, or leash not exceeding six (6) feet in length, and is under the charge of a person competent to exercise care, custody, and control over such dog, unless the owner or operator of such public property grants written permission for such dog to be on such property without such chain or leash.”

Like it or not, our environment is changing and we must change or suffer the consequences.

I felt Mayor Ellery Deaton listened in earnest, but after hearing the experiences of the constituents and every possible negative scenario one might expect if the coyotes were not killed, the “verdict” was in. The unanimous decision by the city council was to spend $15,000 to trap and kill coyotes for four weeks and then revisit the issue to determine the results.

Mayor Deaton also recommended a regional approach to solve the coyote issue in Orange County, which is what I suggested back in October.

However, when an anonymous donor brought the Humane Society of the U.S. wildlife expert Lynsey Dasher to Orange County from D.C to give a presentation on the prevention of coyote incidents, I forwarded Dasher’s invitation to attend to each city manager who contracts with the county for animal services.

Eighty residents attended, but except for Deputy City Manager Hernandez of the host city of Orange, no other city sent a representative to the presentation.

It seems to me animals, God’s creation, much too often pay the price for the ignorance of human beings. Animals end up in our county shelter, 35,399 in 2013, because human beings cannot or do not want to take care of them. Thousands have been killed in our shelters every year and there is no memorial for them. The news media does not rush to the shelter to report those animals routinely put to death……. just because they do not have an owner.

The complacency our society has developed of killing to solve a perceived problem is dangerous…and media fear mongering, deliberately arousing public fear, has been too often played a significant accomplice.

Rose Tingle is an animal rights advocate, longtime Orange County resident and a member of the Voice of OC Community Editorial Board.

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