When over fifty people sat down in the Crowell Public Library’s Barth Community Room last Wednesday night, they expected a presentation on keeping wildlife out of suburbia. Little did they know that things would get wilder inside than out.
The presentation, led by the Pasadena Humane Society’s Wildlife Director Lauren Hamlett, and Director of Outreach Sara Muriello, was arranged to educate citizens on a sight that has been becoming more and more familiar in San Marino: coyotes roaming through the neighborhoods. Despite having no formal jurisdiction over wildlife, the Humane Society offers consultations and meetings to teach people to coexist with coyotes and other wildlife.
“The foothills are part of their natural habitat… This is their home as well,” Hamlett told the crowd. “So we need to work to understand them.”
That being said, residents are urged not to accept coyotes in their neighborhoods. “They’ll take whatever they can get and they’re not really scared of humans, but they can be trained to an extent where they’re afraid of people,” Hamlett said. “It’s not an overnight fix. I wish it was, but humane exclusion is the only real way to keep them out.”
So what exactly should residents do to drive off the coyotes? Hamlett suggests “hazing” them by creating loud noises, making strange and unpredictable movements, throwing tennis balls at them, and setting out deterrents to unsettle them even when humans aren’t present, like motion activated sprinklers.
Hamlett also warned citizens that hazing wouldn’t always be effective.
“The mangy ones especially are desperate and might not be responsive to hazing, so it’s important to vary things and keep everything new and fresh to them and make sure everyone is on the same page,” Hamlett added. That’s what’ll make the difference. They’re an important part of the ecosystem and as humans, we need to take responsibility for moving them into their habitat.”
Many in attendance did not take well to the presentation. Several shared their experiences with coyotes, many of which were markedly different from what Hamlett and Muriello described. The coyotes were more aggressive and bolder and unaffected by hazing to the point where some attendees had used airsoft and BB guns to drive them off, a method which San Marino Police Chief John Incontro discouraged, as discharging a firearm within city limits is illegal. Hamlett added that killing a coyote could mean splitting up a pack and creating more, thus exacerbating the issue.
One attendee, Jim Rosenthal, called for more support from the local government.
“I’ve been here for fifty years and we used to see a coyote maybe once every three months,” Rosenthal said. “But now they’re not just visiting. The community is tired of this and wants it stopped.”
Other attendees proposed the city create a wildlife management plan, but since doing so takes time, Hamlett repeated her recommendation to employ personal hazing.
Several residents who live along the southern border of San Marino claim that coyotes are rampant, especially in the morning. The animals are believed to live in San Gabriel Country Club and the cemetery behind Church of our Saviour.
Incontro also recommended residents report coyote sightings to the police, who are currently collecting data on them.
“I don’t mind if you have to call six times a day,” Incontro said. “If you need to call, call.”