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The coyotes of Griffith Park


I'm no coyote hugger, but it's hard to avoid thinking that USDA trappers went too far by killing seven coyotes in Griffith Park.

There had been a couple of biting incidents, though not serious attacks. In one case, a coyote reportedly bit the toe of a man who was sleeping in the park. But the bites were weeks apart, and because neither was reported promptly, USDA staff had no way to take swabs to tell whether any of these coyotes were the aggressive animals. This much we know: At least five of them were not.

This follows Yorba Linda's decision to hire a trapper after coyotes were snatching some small pets from people's yards. The best way to prevent that sort of thing is to not leave small pets -- or food or water -- in the yard. Coyotes are among the most adaptable of animals. They'll eat just about anything, animal or vegetable. And when their numbers are reduced by hunting, the females give birth to bigger litters.

Shoot aggressive coyotes that attack or threaten people in the park? I have no problem, and some of the coyotes in Yorba Linda showed no fear of people -- a bad sign. They'd be a lot less likely to do that sort of thing if people learned how to behave around them: make awful, loud noises if they approach, spray water if available, throw rocks, make the coyotes associate human contact with unpleasant and scary experiences. Instead, communities build artificial lakes, like one in Yorba Linda, and then complain when in the driest months of a dry year, the coyotes are attracted to it. We tend to like the appearance of nature a lot more than we like nature.

In any case, the hunting of entire populations in an area is another matter, especially after the Angeles National Forest fire. We can't start calling the trappers every time a coyote that's lost its habitat comes wandering into neighborhoods. Better to be very uninviting -- actually, downright rude -- hosts. But not killers of every wild creature around.

Photo credit: Spencer Ainsley / AP

--Karin Klein


Comments () | Archives (43)

The comments to this entry are closed.

janet planet

This is cruel and unacceptable behavior!

The animals are coming down due to the fires, they've lost their own habitats and have no food and no water. What else are they supposed to do?

Klein is right, some human intervention by the way of, perhaps, food drops that draw the coyotes away from humans as well as some appropriate human reaction...like Klein types:

> "make awful, loud noises if they approach, spray water if available, throw rocks,"

...is what's needed here, not hiring hunters to kill the poor animals that survived the Angeles National Forest fire.


Sorry Karen but your missing something.

These coyotes are not displaced animals. They live amongst us just like the less charismatic rats and mice. However when these urban predators become a nuisance they wreak greater havoc than a simple rodent.

Attempting to scare coyotes away with non-lethal hazing and harassment only works to a point. Once coyotes have exhibited aggressive daytime behaviours, pet stealing, stalking and attacking people, lethal options are the only effective solutions for the offenders.

Eight, bold, aggressive coyotes are now gone from the park. Intentional feedings and careless actions of park users will encourages a new cohort of dangerous coyotes, unfortunately, followed by the coyote trappers.


The problem here seems to be an increasing number of interactions between coyote and human. Why is that? Could it be because humans go into the wild foolishly unprepared? Humans are constantly encroaching on the few areas the coyotes have left and then complain when a few are aggressive. We seem to forget we're not the only ones who have to survive in this area. If you build a house in an area where coyotes run free and let your small pets run around outside what do you think will happen?


I've grown up around areas with coyotes all over and I've always known one thing.. NEVER to leave a dog outside alone. The pet stalking is the owners fault, not the coyotes. We don't need to go to extreme measures any time a couple things happen. If I was bit on a trail I would just consider it a case of wrong place wrong time, I wouldn't want to send out some trapper to kill the animal.

Christopher Laurance

Its rare to read an article in the paper that makes common sense.

Hot weather, a lake to get a drink from? What do we think primitive or even modern man would do?

Did the coyotes start the fires? Did they build the houses that were built?

One can only hope that man will someday understand that it is unique in having the ability to be a steward to plant, insect, animal and sea life.

Killing coyotes instead of re-locating them (after all perhaps they too lost their jobs and merely needed a fresh start), is classic bad problem solving.

Dave Wyman

Kay wrote:

>Eight, bold, aggressive coyotes are now gone from the park. Intentional feedings and careless actions of park users will encourages a new cohort of dangerous coyotes, unfortunately, followed by the coyote trappers.<

This is simply the projected feelings of the commenter about the situation. There is no proof there were aggressive coyotes in Griffith Park. One bold one, that didn't actually bite someone? It's time to send emails, write letters, and make phone calls to the Tom La Bonge, the park, and the USDA, which is what I'm doing, and complain about the over reaction to a non-incident.

Chris D'Anda

People amaze me when they want wildlife to stay put where they think it should live. The attitude is always "Not in my back yard".
They travel to were food and water supplies are available. Have you all forgotten that we are as much part of the food chain? I'm so sick of people who think the answer is to kill everything that gets in there way. We who are suppose to be highly intelligent, show little intelligence when it comes to protecting those creatures that live with us. Have we all forgotten that those creatures that you are so fortunate to see are the strongest of the species they endure the harsh life of weather, lack of food & water and humans. It makes me so sad that people view animals as pest instead of hope for every animal that becomes extinct is a sign of whats to come for the human race. Every animal plays a part in the Eco-system we are the only creature that contributes to creating mass machinery to destroy animals in mass numbers. Yet we see nothing wrong with this? The media plays a huge part in creating headlines that act like millions of people are being attacked when reality is a few simple accidents that happen because of human carelessness. It's a shame that they even killed any animals over this. Murders are sent to prison to be well fed and cared for but animals get no such judicial system to protect them from the death sentence that they are dealt because we are careless and ignorant.


This writer needs to apply some critical thinking. Concluding that 5 of 7 coyotes were not aggressive, simply because 2 of 7 bit humans, is the kind of silly, Disney-informed, anthropomorphisizing of animals in which children and the Grizzly Man indulge.

Jason McCabe

If the USDA want's a coyote out of Grifith Park (not that this situation seemed to warrant any action) they can trap it and relocate it. It seems that one coyote nipped somebody on the foot and eight completely different coyotes were shot to pacify the public. Well from where I sit the public is sickened.

Dave Wyman

Janet wrote:

>perhaps, food drops that draw the coyotes away from human<

Unnecessary and completely impractical, i.e., impossible. Coyotes live among us - some months back I watched one walk down Spauling Ave., a quarter block south of Melrose, during mid-day.

The solution to the problem of coyotes in Griffith Park - which, by the way, was not, as Janet thinks, impacted by the fires in the San Gabriel Mountains, is to simply leave them alone and when necessary, shoo them away.

Readers, ask yourselves how many times you've heard of a coyote killing a human. The answer: zero. Attack a human, bite a child? Incredibly rare. As in it doesn't happen enough times - and DIDN'T happen THIS time, to warrant slaughtering innocent animals.

With their natural predators gone, squirrels and rats and rabbits are going to multiply faster and are going to be a lot more visible, and perhaps a lot more hungry. We'll be killing these little creatures, too.

I don't intend to anthropomorphize animals like coyotes or squirrels. This poem, by Martin Niemöller, though, seems on point:

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

No one should come for anything in Griffith Park - not the trees, not the deer, the bobcats, the squirrels, and not the coyotes. If we let them come for something as innocent as a wild creature that lives in the park, then one day they indeed might come for us.


I camped among the bears in national parks with no harm to anybody. We can live with the coyotes too: Keep food and trash away, keep close watch over pets and kids. No need to kill anybody - just use common sense.


The problem is that people and their dogs are not threatening to coyotes, they're starting to associate humans with tasty little dogs they can eat. You can't just dangle an completely helpless animal on a string and think the coyotes aren't going to bite. Coyotes are starting to see people as the easiest way to a meal.

What the city needs to do is bring in hunting dogs to scare the coyotes, get a pack of foxhounds or coonhounds to chase them. Foxhunting clubs hunt coyotes in this area, it's not hard to find dogs that will give the coyotes a good chase. Hunting dogs can rarely catch coyotes, they're too slow, but it will teach the coyotes to be scared of the dogs, run at the sound of barking.

The real problem is that people have taken too much of the wolf out of our companion animals. My rotties nearly killed a coyote that came sniffing around our fence, we haven't had a problem since. I'm not going to do something stupid, but I don't worry my two 100+lb rottweilers will be coyote food.

And I've seen coyotes at night running down the street in the middle of Burbank, so coyotes aren't just for the hillsides.


Trapping and relocating is a better solution to this problem. Shooting is not a solution.

chris d

i believe it is wrong to kill the coyotes. none of the attacks were severe. yes they become a nuisance when they snatch our animals or attack our children but whose fault is that? our little animals and children should be supervised 100% of the time. kay your wrong. they dont know right from wrong and the best way to handle a situation with one is by doing non lethal attacks on them like rock throwing and making noise. they live at the park too thats there home so we enter their territory and they should not be killed for defending them. it gets to a point where they kill someone ok shoot and kill it. but if no deaths have happened then they shouldnt be killed off just because.


Yes they did that story of a Coyote attacking a human being is preposterous. Humans provoke animals so they can be kill.

Will Thach

Thanks for reporting this incident. I lived at the base of Griffith for 12 years, and saw the coyotes regularly. None ever acted aggressively toward me. They are beautiful, and there presence enriches the park. What a terrible loss.


I think wolves ,mountain lions and bears should be let loose in Griffith Park. Then we will see if the anti every thing crowd likes that.


The killings were not necessary. There are always other choices!!!


"Coyotes are among the most adaptable of animals. They'll eat just about anything" Such as a human toe?


I guy gets his foot nibbled on and 7 coyotes are slaughtered. Yeah, I'd say that's over-reacting.

stuart griffin

"these Coyotes are Not displaced animals"

no comments...


This is just another display of humans playing god with non-human animals. The coyotes have as much right to exist as we do. The fact that they're acting like coyotes doesn't mean they should be killed. If they had to be removed from Griffith Park, how about a NON-lethal method such as relocation? And it was utterly ridiculous killing SEVEN coyotes; it's very likely that NONE of the seven was guilty of either biting incident. Stupid, cruel, knee-jerk reaction to wild animals behaving like...wild animals.


Janet, Karin, I'm guessing you haven't had a whole lot of experience at first hand with 'yotes. I have. They are relentless subsistence killers themselves. Note well that word 'relentless.' They're always looking for their next opportunity.

How do you feel about smash-and-grab robbery? That what coyotes do, at their own level.

They are ingenious and cunning. This is why they occupy the spot they do in the Navajo pantheon. As they inbreed more with domestic dogs they are losing their fear of humans. 'Yote attacks on humans will become more common. Best to push them back now.

pets of Marc Twane from Silverlake


Your comment dose not seem to reflect a good understanding of the situation and life/wildlife in general.

Griffith Park is my backyard and I have never had a problem with a coyote. I have lived here all my life.

Please consider that maybe people should be fined/punished for the problems they cause, instead of senselessly killing the animals.

Also, will everyone please stop using stupid euphemisms - calling them "trappers", they are KILLERS. A trapper would trap an animal and relocate it. A killer shoots and kills an animal.

pets of Marc Twane from Silverlake

Damn spell checkers...in the previous comment, dose should be does.


Who is this person sleeping in the park? That whole story sounds fishy to me.

I have a feeling Jessica Simpon's recent misfortune just gave the coyotes some bad press and the authorities are overreacting.

Gonzales Ozen

I agree with the writer in the article; It is wrong to target these innocent animals who are in their own habitat, not ours.
I have recently started to hike in the hills of Griffith Park, and have actually seen a coyote on more than one occasion. He appeared to be as much afraid of me, as I might have been of him. I did nothing to scare him off, but rather he ran off at the sight of me. I felt so bad when I read the article, and I sincerely believe the method of elimination was an improper one.

Gonzales Ozen

Kay, I am ashamed of you and your comments. Just where do you think these coyotes are supposed to live, after all the bulldozers and people began to occupy their home?

EH from Pasadena


Puh-Lease! Would you think twice about killing rats or mosquitoes? I bet you, like most people, would be all for eliminating potentially hazardous vermin. It is only because you think the coyote's are "cute and cuddly" that you have a moral qualm about killing them. However, these are dangerous and wild animals (more so than rats and mosquitoes). In the arroyo area of Pasadena, these animals are out every night. I see them in the evening when I drive home and in the morning when I go jogging. They are brazen and not afraid of humans. I've even seen one carrying someone's cat in it's mouth. How long before someone's child is attacked. I don't doubt that a hungry coyote could easily kill a small child.

So, despite the fact they they may be cute and humane trapping and eradication of them somehow offends your sense of fairness, we should continue eliminating them from populated areas.


I am amazed by this. Not leave small pets in the yard? in other words, just give the yard to the coyotes. What about small children? If a coyote pack will snatch a small dog during the day when the owner is right there, what will it take to remove the problem? should we wait til they take a child? I really want to be there when you tell the parent, you should not have let the child out in your yard.

I saw a coyote in my side yard last December. If I could have killed it I would have. I live *nowhere* near a park and miles from any wooded hillsides. There are many children in my neighborhood. I have cats. My yard is there's. If there is a threat to *my* cats in my yard, I have no qualms over destroying it utterly. As I would if it was a threat to any of my friends children.

I am furious over the well just let them have the yard attitude.


Kay...you are pretty much a heartless monster. These are living creatures. Wild animals who live in the wild! We infringe on their territory and then think we have the right to shoot them. The fires have definitely made it worse but even without that we have been creeping in on their homes, not the other way around.

I lost a family cat to a coyote and it was horrible so I certainly have no love for them. It was a horrific experience, but it didn't turn me into a murderer. Animals in the wild are just that--wild. They also need to eat. And while their choice of meal may suck and believe me I have the utmost sympathy for anyone who has lost a pet, it's not like these coyotes maliciously snatch your pets.

We have no idea if the coyotes that we killed were the aggressive ones. And even if they were, if it wasn't in self-defense it isn't right! Don't want coyotes living in their natural habitat because we enjoy hiking in it? Find a place for them that's safe for them and us and move them there. Coyotes are not rats (not that I think it's cool to kill even rats in the outdoors).

These are intelligent animals who are getting aggressive because they are scared and hungry and losing ground faster by the day. Losing ground to us! Does it suck that they are snatching pets--YES! That is horrible! But hey, keep your dogs on a leash...you should do that anyway. Keep your pets under watch. Keep your cats inside. I know it sucks to actually have to be responsible for something but too bad.

Killing the coyotes is not the answer. It is cruel and hypocritical. Really shows the significance of the difference the "e" makes from human to humane.
You did get one thing right though Kay--irresponsible humans are the problem here. And the coyotes are the ones paying for it.

Janet Planet is wrong...

Janet Planet doesn't know what she's talking about, and if she read the article, she'd see that the coyotes in question were not victims of the fires in Angeles National Forest, but were in Griffith Park. Although Griffith Park is pretty much like a forest, it's not. It's in the middle of a big city, with many people in and around it daily. Feeding them will only encourage them to be dependent upon the help of humans, and probably lead to more encounters. If there isn't enough "natural" food to go around for all of them, hunting them will increase the amount of food for the rest of them.

tom b

No Kay, you're wrong - these were not "eight bold aggressive coyotes." These were seven randomly killed coyotes.

Better to haze the thoughtless humans who feed them.

Laurence Cruz

I'm with Karin on this one. Shot for nibbling a sleeper's toe? Why, if I were hungry enough I might do the same thing. If a small child were left wandering in Griffith Park, it could possibly become coyote food. But from what I've seen of the size and weight of the coyotes in the park on my bike rides there, they pose no serious threat to adult humans. As a cat owner, the pet stealing is certainly a concern, but that risk goes with the territory of moving closer to nature and coyote habitat. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the proverbial kitchen, or at least keep your pet indoors.


Kay, you certainly sound like you own the planet. Our neighbors in nature were here long before you bought your cookie-cutter house in a gated community and they have every right to life. If our pools and landscaping and fires and appalling consumption of their food and water sources are driving them into your neck of the woods, I sympathize -- with them.


Why couldn't they just re-locate them?? This was a disturbing article.

Tommy Pagano

They were here first!

Karin Klein

To E.H. and Tom (and perhaps a couple others): It happens I live in a neighborhood known for having a lot of coyotes; a couple of months ago, my neighbors, who have a Maltese, found a coyote right outside their back door. I've found them on my front walkway. I do not think of them as cute and cuddly, though they are quite often beautiful to behold (preferably from a distance). The other night, we heard the horrible sounds of a coyote killing an animal just outside our fence--very chilling.

I also own two small pets. I keep them inside unless I am right there with them. And if I left one outside and something awful happened, I would feel terrible, but I would blame myself, not the coyotes. I chose to live in this spot because it's beautiful, with open spaces and wilderness. I can't expect to make that choice and then kill off the wilderness for my own convenience.


Couldn't agree more. I regularly trail run and mountain bike in our area's wild parks and national forests. I accept the risks associated with my chosen activities and wouldn't dream of clearing out the woods of every potential danger ... in fact the dangers are part of the attraction.

Nonetheless, we should focus on the bigger issue of the loss of these wild spaces. People build homes deeper and deeper into the canyons and borregos and then recoil in horror when the mountain cats and coyotes grab the occasional easy meal. News flash folks, you can't have it both ways. If you desire the remote spaces and canyon views you gotta accept the risks, wildlife comes with the territory.

That said, coyotes and cats that clearly exhibit no fear of humans and engage in unusual behavior (hunting in daylight, approaching humans) should likely be destroyed as it's been shown time and again they'll grow increasingly more dangerous if left to their own devices. Moreover, your plan is the best option to prevent such encounters ... coyotes are not stray dogs and mountain lions are not overgrown housecats. Like bears, these animals should under no circumstances be fed or encouraged to hang around homes and people. They can manage just fine on their own.

Adrienne Snowden

Kay, very well stated. In fact, the Griffith Park bites could have been prevented if the park was watching for aggressive coyotes. Trapping and euthanizing are the only effective control for habituated coyotes posing a threat to human safety. (Relocation is prohibited by law.) When you trap only the most aggressive animals, the remaining coyotes usually regain a fear of humans and stay away. CA (and everywhere else in North America) needs a plan to control urban coyote aggression.

Adrienne Snowden

Shooting coyotes also re-instills a fear of humans into the remaining coyote population but to a lesser extent than trapping does. Traps can't be used when it's likely that other animals will be trapped or a person could be hurt.

Scat Coyote

Very interesting comments on coyotes in urban settings. We are having similar problems in Vancouver. One thing may be different. Coyotes are not native to Vancouver. They moved into the area around 1980. Are they native to the Griffith Park area?

Another thought...

If these were dogs (yes spot and fido) animal control would impound them and if they killed another pet or bit someones toe they would be KILLLED not called cute and cuddly.


I was in Griffith Park by the cafe and portapotty last saturday, near sunset ... people were leaving and I was standing on the road when a coyote came trotting toward me ... I freaked out and jumped in my car.

Then the ranger drove by and I told him. The coyote was on one side and people hadn't seen it. The ranger went over and the thing went back into the woods.

Oddly, the animal was comfortable jogging around a throng of people ... maybe those that saw it assumed it was another dog off the leash ...

Either way, I'd shoot the lot of them.



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