Coyotes Run Wild in Playa and Westchester

Posted July 27, 2016 by The Argonaut in News

Attacks on pets and a woman bitten on the wrist have residents worried, but coyotes are also an important part of the natural ecosystem

By Gary Walker

A recent spate of coyote encounters has residents on high alert

A recent spate of coyote encounters has residents on high alert

A recent spate of coyote sightings, multiple deaths of neighborhood pets and a woman being bitten by a coyote near an elementary school have a group of Westchester homeowners worried enough to consider hiring private contractors to trap the wily predators.

Local wildlife officials caution, however, that trapping coyotes would require them to be euthanized, thus disrupting a natural part of the local ecosystem.

Residents have reported seeing coyotes lounging on front lawns and in driveways, and there have been multiple reports of a coyote roaming in the area of Paseo Del Rey Natural Science Magnet Elementary School near Falmouth Avenue and Redlands Street.That’s the area where on July 11 a coyote bit Leonora Smith on the wrist as she tried to separate her two small dogs from it after the coyote ambushed them during a stroll at dawn.

“I picked my [smaller] dog up and it kept coming around me until finally it sat down in front of me. I started screaming and telling it to go away, but it kept lunging at me. Finally one of my neighbors came out and distracted it, and that gave me time to get back into my apartment,” Smith said.

Los Angeles County Wildlife Services Officer Hoang Dinh says trapping coyotes is not always effective, and state law prevents trapped coyotes from being relocated — meaning they must be euthanized.

Instead, Dinh recommend keeping smaller pets on leashes when walking them, walking pets in groups, keeping pet food out of reach from coyotes and, above all, not feeding wild animals such as coyotes, raccoons and opossums.

Feeding wildlife is illegal, and Dinh said during an informal neighborhood meeting on Sunday that he had recently cited a man for feeding a family of coyotes near Los Angeles International Airport.

“Fear of humans is engrained in their DNA, and we need to keep it that way. My goal is to keep the wildlife afraid of us and out of sight,” he said.

Joanne Orenski said she has read on social media that some people in her Westchester neighborhood east of Sepulveda Boulevard are still considering trapping as an option.

“There are some people who are still interested in trapping, but I’m not convinced that it would solve our problems right now,” Orenski said. “But if the problem gets worse, I might reconsider trapping.”

This isn’t the first time coyotes have been spotted in the area.

In August 2014, a coyote chased Playa del Rey bluffs resident Cindy Curphey near her home after she tried to stop it from attacking her small dog.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife statistics, there were 19 reported cases of coyotes attacking humans between 2012 and 2015.The department does not keep statistics of coyote attacks on pets. The department estimates there are as many as 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes in California.

During Sunday’s neighborhood outdoor meeting near the corner of Earhart Avenue and Will Rogers Street, one resident asked whether shooting aggressive coyotes was an option.

Shooting coyotes is illegal, Dinh said, adding that his department and the LAPD are investigating a coyote shooting in Silver Lake that happened earlier this month.

Adult coyotes are more aggressive during May to September when they are caring for young, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control.

“Domestic dogs are especially vulnerable to attacks during this time. Even dogs on leashes have been attacked when they got too close to a family of coyotes,” the department’s website warns.

That lines up with the results of the first ever National Park Service analysis conducted on urban coyotes in Los Angeles. Biologists installed a camera in the backyard of a Silver Lake home last year and documented a female coyote attacking neighborhood dogs multiple times. Researchers later discovered that she had a litter of pups nearby that she was protecting.

The National Park Service study found that coyotes are not encumbered by mountains, hills or bluffs. They can also live in urban environments, such as vacant lots. Coyotes that were trapped and tagged for the study were seen roaming empty streets at night and in the early morning hours.

When encountering a coyote, Dinh recommends that people shout, use an air horn or throw objects at the animals in order to scare them away.

Coyote advocates stress that the animals help control the rodent population. Rats, mice and gophers are staples of the coyote diet, along with squirrels and rabbits. They argue that coyotes have been seen in the bluffs for decades and are part of the region’s wildlife population.

Dinh said that while he will investigate coyotes that have become a nuisance or a potential danger in residential areas, social media can often exaggerate the number of coyotes in a given area.

“One coyote can be reported as many as 20 times,” he said.

Smith says it took a week before her dogs were willing to go outside again and admits that she, too, remains shaken two weeks after the attack.

“If my neighbor hadn’t come out I don’t know what would have happened,” Smith said.

Visit for more information about dealing with coyotes in urban areas.



    shawn oshea

    In Huntington Beach they have local meetings on how to live with them. We need to learn how to live with them, they belong here. Humans have encroached into there territory. Carry an air horn, whistle or something that will make loud noises, make yourself appear large, wave your arms, yell, keep cats indoors, keep small dogs on a SHORT leash, nearby, don’t leave small outside unattended, walk in groups (also a nice social time). A coyote can easily jump a 6–8 foot fence. Carry a cane or large stick and your cell phone. Be very aware of your surroundings, DON’T TALK, TEXT OR ANYTHING ON YOUR CELL, be present, look ahead in all directions and in shrubbery where they may be stalking or watching, dusk and dawn are the worst times to go out. Please come together and educate yourself and our neighbors, learn to live with them!


    the important information isn’t what “people” are “feeling”
    the important information is FACTUAL.

    any biologist that is knowledgeable about coyotes will tell you that the trapping approach WON’T WORK.
    during the meeting with Officer Dinh, he too, once again stressed this point.

    within the last year, all the coyotes were cleared out of Elysian Park.
    practically instantaneously, a set of NEW coyotes came in and took over.
    the exact same thing would happen here, no matter what people “feel.”

    whether or not folks WANT to believe it or not, trapping is basically STUPID.
    trapping won’t work AND the bait used in the traps will attract other nuisance animals that carry fleas.


    L.A. animal services is biased against any lethal control. Not because it doesn’t work, because they have bought what activist biologist told them.

    This story is pure fluff lacking any substance. Once again “experts” somehow don’t need degrees or first hand knowledge. Why aren’t canid biologists consulted? Because the information they provide us contrary to groups like ASPCA, L.A. Animal Care and Control, HSUS and Project Coyote. These groups all make a good living pushing feel good policies over facts and science.

    A good place to find resources from non biased sources; google project coyote lies


    I wonder how many other people are getting tired of being told how easy it is to live with coyotes while their family pet (in their own yard, I might add) is being eaten alive by a wild predator. Its beginning to get old. Why don’t cities just admit, they take kickbacks from Project Coyote and other groups to put forth all that BS, while the public is basically told to go to hell. None of them have ever asked the real people that know what should be done, they use these pseudo experts and act like they are believable, when they know what they profess doesn’t work. Trapping and culling the coyotes is the only thing that will ease the problem, but to the cities thats just too easy. Fools!!

      genesis landry

      1) nobody said it was “easy,” so maybe you should stop making stuff up.
      i’ve been to EVERY one of the coyote meetings in my area.
      never has anyone said it was “easy.

      2)where is ANY evidence of kickbacks regarding this issue?
      maybe that, too, is something you are making up?

      3) tell the folks who JUST TRIED your dumb idea about trapping and culling to clear out elysian park about how it is the way to go.
      just like all the biologists said, it didn’t even work AT ALL.
      it just cost a lot of money.
      money that was THROWN OUT.

      4) why would anyone think that YOU know more than people who are spending their whole professional lives on this issue and are formally trained about it and who perform and evaluate REAL scientific studies?


    I see many walkers in evening walking with pets, children or both and they’re not carrying any visible protection. Knowing that coyotes or just other mean dogs are around I feel one must carry a stick or some sort of weapon to give yourself and your pets a chance to get away.


      i’m one of those people.
      i walk my dogs three times a day
      have been doing this for over twenty years
      never carried a weapon of any sort.

      i just follow the instructions about how to behave.
      never have had a problem.

    Theresa Hew

    “Once coyotes have
    begun acting boldly or aggressively around
    humans, it is unlikely that any attempts at
    hazing can be applied with sufficient
    consistency or intensity to reverse the coyote
    habituation. In these circumstances,
    removal of the offending animals is probably
    the only effective strategy” (Timm et al.

    This is taken from the UC Davis studies of the urban coyote where they have been studied for over thirty years in the wild and urban environments. It’s a maintenance job. Trapping once in an area will not put much of a dent in the problem considering the large, habituated population we have in SoCal. They trapped on an elementary school in my neighborhood ten years ago. That along with public education helped decrease the problem significantly for a few years. But, because periodic monitoring of the populations and their behavior was not conducted, the problem has come back. Like any other pest, maintenance control measures must be in place.


    genesis, read the UC Davis report, they are the experts, not PETA or Project Coyote. People are dealing with habituated coyotes and they need to go.


    Perhaps they should have actually considered how many coyotes and other wildlife was going to be displaced by the massive building boom in Playa Vista before this escalated into such a serious problem. Now they have been driven into the surrounding neighborhoods to feed on people’s pets.


    Wild killer coyotes do not belong in residential neighborhoods. Citizen should expect their city fathers whom they voted for, to keep their pets, their children and their families safe. Quit blaming the victims, put the blame where it belongs, on the city who will not keep you safe.

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