Rancho Palos Verdes approves hiring of professional coyote trapper – Daily Breeze

Rancho Palos Verdes will soon hire a professional trapper to help remove coyotes deemed aggressive.

The City Council, responding to increased coyote sightings and concerns from residents this year, voted this week to contract with a company called Coyote, Wildlife & Pest Solutions to offer trapping services, part of what the panel called a more robust approach to removing the wild animals.

The specific one-year contract is scheduled to go before the council on Sept. 21.

The city would pay the company $2,300 per a 10-business-day trapping period, or about $60,000 annually, according to RPV Code Enforcement Officer Rudy Monroy.

CWPS would euthanize the coyotes immediately after trapping them.

The council on Tuesday, Sept. 7, also approved conducting community workshops and putting out a coyote-related newsletter.

It’s unclear, however, how soon after the city approves the trapping contract that CWPS can begin its work.

The city is currently investigating whether state law requires it to conduct an environmental analysis before trapping can begin. Such a study could cost RPV as much as $30,000, according to a staff report.

“It could change predator-prey relationships within an ecosystem,” Kent Smirl, a coordinator at Wildlife Watch, a part of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said during Tuesday’s meeting.

That potential hiccup aside, RPV has been keen to quickly solve what residents say – and data shows – is a burgeoning coyote problem.

There have been 646 sightings in the city this year through Aug 26, an increase from 363 in 2020, according to Monroy.

Of those, more than half — 343 — have been about a coyote moving or at rest. Another 36 included a coyote following or approaching a person. There were more than 150 reports of a coyote entering a yard, with nine accounts of the hunters injuring or killing a pet.

There were also several reports of coyotes showing aggressive behavior, such as showing teeth or lunging.

Councilwoman Barbara Ferraro, for example, said her family has lost pets to coyotes, including one where her grandson watched as the coyote carried the family’s cat away in its mouth.

“I haven’t seen the number of raccoons I used to see, haven’t seen the skunks anymore,” Ferraro said. “It seems like the coyotes are clearing out any kind of wildlife that we’ve had, plus now it’s taking pets. We don’t want children to be next.”

No children have been attacked yet.

But that’s what residents, including the 10 who spoke during public comment Tuesday, seem most concerned about.

“I think that we should be reducing the numbers of coyotes that threaten our families,” said resident Lannon Tanchum, “that threaten our pets, that threaten our children and threaten our way of life.”

Coyotes have lost their natural prey, such as rabbits and other rodents, so they turn to what’s available, including pets, said Smirl, a coordinator for Wildlife Watch, a state leadership program that teaches agencies and communities how to respect and be stewards of wildlife.

“We’ve introduced more food into the ecosystem,” Smirl said, “and unfortunately, the coyotes have taken advantage.”

Jimmie Rizzo, a trapper/capture specialist with CWPS, further detailed that problem on Tuesday.

“If it’s easier for them to eat something else, that’s what they’re going to do,” Rizzo said. “A predator only has a certain amount of energy to expend to get food, and they’re going to take the least likely to give them a problem.”

Rizzo, who said he has 45 years of trapping experience, would supplement an already existing city contract with the Los Angeles County Department of Agricultural Commissioner/Weights & Measures.

Under that agreement, the city determines whether an aggressive coyote exists and then the county conducts its own assessment of whether to trap the animal.

With help from the county, eight traps have been set in the city this year, with one coyote caught, Monroy said.

The city hopes Rizzo’s CWPS can further curtail the threat.

But trapping coyotes may not be enough for some residents – with two suggesting on Tuesday that the city should also shoot them.

Rizzo, though, said that in his experience, trapping is a better coyote deterrent.

“Once you shoot a coyote, it drops dead; the rest of them don’t know what went on,” Rizzo said. “When you trap them, they seem distressed, can’t get away. Then you start instilling fear in animals to keep them away from where you’re at.”

Smirl, for his part, said educating residents not to leave food or water out, or provide shelter, is among the best ways to combat coyotes.

Mayor Eric Alegria said the city needs to review and potentially increase penalties for those who feed coyotes.

“I think we have to really work,” he said, “to unfortunately penalize those rare individuals who are promoting the problem by feeding these coyotes.”

Under the initiatives the City Council OK’d this week, RPV will travel down both tracks – educating via community meetings and newsletters, and trapping via Rizzo and his CWPS.

Once CWPS begins, according to a staff report, the company will have to get written permission from property owners before placing traps on private lands. And all property owners within 150 yards of a trap must be notified.

Residents, if they want, can hire a state-licensed trapper at their own expense because they are considered a “non-game wildlife,” according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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