Coyote meeting focuses on animal behavior, patterns

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By Christian May-Suzuki

In partnership with the city of Culver City, the Loyola Marymount University Center for Urban Resilience (CUR) presented a multi-year plan to control coyote activity in neighborhoods at a meeting at the Veteran’s Memorial Building on Wednesday, March 13.

The meeting was lead by a presentation from CUR executive director Eric Strauss. Strauss outlined the specific challenges that come with the control of coyotes in urban areas, but emphasized that “if a coyote is a danger, it needs to be removed.”

Strauss began to detail some niches of coyote behavior in order to help illustrate his points better. Particularly emphasized were the facts that coyotes are very territorial creatures and will assimilate the territories of dead coyotes into their own, and the activity spikes that coyotes have during their breeding and denning season from April-June.

Strauss called upon studies that he conducted on coyotes in Long Beach and Rhode Island to show residents these and other characteristics of coyote behavior. This leads into a three-year plan that the city intends to implement to help control coyotes. This plan includes studying the habits and overall demographic of coyotes within the Culver City area, as well as informing and educating the community on coyote behavior and safety.

The goal of this plan is to implement a system to designate and deal with problem coyotes before they can interact with humans and housecats. The initial steps involve tracking possible problem coyotes with Nest cameras and trackers.

Part of this comes with help from the community. In order to minimize the possibilities of encountering these potential problem coyotes, people were told that they should take steps to make their homes less appealing to the coyotes, the biggest one being keeping cats indoors at night.

This point caused some irritation among some members of the community. One expressed her belief that cats need to have their time outside at night to maintain a happy quality of life. Another brought up the point that the community shouldn’t have to go through the effort to accommodate for the coyotes after 60 house cats were killed by coyote activity in 2018. However, the point was made that coyotes have been here far longer than humans, as evidenced by coyote remains in the La Brea Tar Pits and descriptions of coyotes from early western explorers.

Additionally, a majority of people present were on board with keeping cats indoors at night. For those who were still somewhat apprehensive, Strauss suggested that people who will continue to allow their cats to go outside to wear a tracking device to monitor their nighttime movement patterns.

Scientists believe it may be possible to identify possible places where coyotes are based on changes or irregularities in cats’ nighttime behavior. While it is still considered a risk, allowing scientists to track these movements can help spot out coyotes.

Following the meeting, members of the community mingled to discuss their thoughts, as well as speak to Strauss and members of the CUR.