Manhattan Beach Takes Step Toward Coyote TrappingFeb 23, 2023 09:58AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
(This is a stock photo of a coyote - NOT one that was actually seen in Manhattan Beach)
The Manhattan Beach City Council on Tuesday night voted to take the first step toward adopting a coyote management plan that would include coyote trapping.
The council voted 4-1 - with Councilmember David Lesser as the lone "no" vote - to begin the processes required before the city could hire a trapper.
The next steps include revising the city's coyote management strategy with a plan to include trapping; conducting a CEQA (environmental impact) analysis; and making a budget appropriation for trapping.
The council opted for a "selective trapping" approach, which would cost approximately $300 per day, to be used as needed.
A city staff member told MB News that staff aims to return to the City Council with a revised Coyote Management and Response Plan in the next month or two.
The coyote issue has proven to be a thorny one in Manhattan Beach and in surrounding communities. While wildlife experts have told the council that trapping is not a solution to the coyote presence in town, those residents who have been traumatized by the death of a pet or other animals have insisted that it's time to start eliminating coyotes by lethal means.
In advocating for trapping, Councilmember Joe Franklin cited two instances where cats had been killed by coyotes, and one instance where a coyote had appeared in the morning on a soccer field at Pacific Elementary.
"We have the evidence that they’re here where they haven’t been before," said Franklin. "I support the trapping options...That’s our job - to look out for the welfare of our residents, and this is an escalating problem that needs to be addressed."
Data Shows Increased Sightings, Increased Reporting
Local concern about coyotes has increased in the past year, with a rash of coyote sightings in town, as well as residents whose pets have been killed, either with direct evidence of a coyote attack, or a strong likelihood of a coyote attack.
A city report of coyote observations showed that there had been a total of 70 coyote reports in 2022. (That count includes 3 confirmed predations, 18 unconfirmed or possible predations, and 49 reported coyote sightings). This number was more than double any previous year since the information has been collected.
Yet as city staff pointed out, residents have been on heightened alert about coyotes and are probably more aware of the issue and more likely to report those sightings.
In its effort to increase awareness about coyotes, the city has handed out 1,400 brochures on discouraging coyotes; and has promoted the opportunity to report coyote sightings through the Reach Manhattan Beach app.
Councilmember David Lesser, who was the lone "no" vote on the trapping option, said that he believed that the city needed to do more outreach beyond the 1,400 brochures.
But Mayor Steve Napolitano countered that trapping was an option for the city to keep "in our back pocket" in case of more aggressive coyote activity.
Wildlife Consultant Had Advised Against Trapping
Back in September, the council had heard a report from Rebecca Dmytryk of Humane Wildlife Control Inc., who conducted a field study of coyote activity in Manhattan Beach at the end of July.
Dmytryk cited research showing that there have been dramatic reductions in coyote traffic in communities that remove food resources including pet food, birdseed, compost, accessible garbage, fruits and berries, free-roaming chickens, and free-roaming cats.
She referred the council to a study showing that Torrance's efforts to reduce the coyote population by lethal means had not resulted in a significant decrease in the coyote population - and might have actually been counterproductive as new coyotes took up the space and moved in. (Torrance reported more coyote sightings the year after it started trapping - 293 sightings and 11 coyotes trapped in 2020/21, versus 259 sightings and 15 trappings in 2019/20.)
Dmytryk recommended against any kind of lethal controls, adding that lethal controls should only be considered if a coyote was seen to be aggressive to humans. (The single coyote they encountered in their research was "extremely skittish," she said.)
"We absolutely can reduce the presence of coyotes in Manhattan Beach, but to change their behavior, we have to change our own," she told the council at the time. "It’s the people of this town who will ultimately draw coyotes out by not drawing them in."
The South Bay is home to the California valley coyote, which can typically weigh between 20 and 35 pounds, or about the size of a medium-sized dog, with long legs.