Coyotes Run Wild in Playa and Westchester. 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 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.
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