Larchmont Buzz: Wildlife Watch Town Hall, Including Coyote Management

In the past couple of years, coyote sightings have become almost a daily occurrence in our Greater Wilshire-area communities. In response, the Larchmont Buzz, along with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Animal Services will present a town hall meeting to discuss safety measure to protect both wildlife and residents. 

For the last couple of years, coyote sightings have become almost a daily occurrence in our Greater Wilshire-area communities.  Thankfully, there have been few actual attacks. But that’s a few too many, and watchful neighbors remain concerned about what seem to be growing numbers of the animals in our area.

So far, the City of Los Angeles has provided information about coyotes, and some advice for how best to live with them, but little in the way of coordinated management.  But that may be about to change.

In December, as reported in the L.A. Times, the City of Huntington Beach adopted a new program to help educate residents about urban wildlife (including coyotes) and how to live with it, and to establish a reporting and action system to help handle different levels of wildlife encounters.

After seeing the story, the Buzz contacted Los Angeles Department of Animal Services Officer Hoang Dinh, who said the program adopted by Huntington Beach is called Wildlife Watch.  It was developed with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and works much like neighborhood Crime Watch programs:  teams of neighbors are trained to recognize and act on urban wildlife encounters of various types, with responses keyed to varying levels of danger.  The most dangerous incidents may result in efforts to trap and remove the animals involved.

Officer Dinh said he has been looking for Los Angeles communities that might be interested in piloting Wildlife Watch in their neighborhoods.  So on Wednesday, March 2, the Larchmont Buzz, along with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, will present a Town Hall meeting at which Officer Dinh and colleagues from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife will explain what the Wildlife Watch program is, how it can benefit communities like ours, and how residents can form Wildlife Watch teams in their neighborhoods.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Ebell of Los Angeles, 741 S. Lucerne Blvd.  All community members are welcome and encouraged to attend.  The meeting will be informational only; resources and contacts will be provided for those who would like to learn more or start a pilot program in their neighborhood.

Here’s a bit more information:

What is a Wildlife Watch?

Wildlife Watch is a wildlife education program that enlists the active participation of citizens in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Natural Resource Volunteer Program. It brings neighbors together and helps train them to recognize and distinguish among wildlife sightings, wildlife threats to public safety, wildlife attacks and natural vs. unnatural wildlife behavior. It also helps with implementation of basic wildlife conflict prevention techniques…much like area Crime Watches do with crime prevention and reporting.

Who can participate?

Anyone who lives in the area – including individuals and/or neighborhood associations, as well as both renters and homeowners.

Why Wildlife Watch?

● Observing wild animals is one of the many benefits of living in or near wildlife habitat. However, the experience can turn unpleasant or even dangerous when well-meaning people knowingly or unknowingly provide food, shelter, or water for wildlife.

● There are not enough wildlife officials, animal control, or law enforcement officers available so citizen involvement is essential to educate the community.

● You and your neighbors are the ones who really know what is going on with regards to wildlife conflicts in your community.

● By cooperating with the DFW, local law enforcement, animal control, and each other, people can reduce the number of wildlife conflicts in their communities. Human-wildlife conflicts cause emotional trauma, human injury, loss of pets, and property damage.

How does it work?

In addition to training neighborhood Wildlife Watch teams, the program helps with receiving and tracking incoming calls, mapping wildlife incident locations and providing response efforts. Residents will be educated about the difference between wildlife sightings, threats, and attacks…natural versus unnatural (potentially dangerous) animal behavior…wildlife conflict prevention…and where to report sightings and incidents, which will be assigned to one of several color-coded levels:

Type Green (sightings) A report (confirmed or unconfirmed) of an observation that is perceived to be a public safety wildlife problem. The mere presence of public safety wildlife does not in itself constitute a threat.

Type Yellow (threat) A report where the presence of public safety is confirmed by a field investigation, and the responding person perceives the animal to be an imminent threat to public health or safety. Imminent threat means there is a likelihood of human injury based on the totality of the circumstances.

Type Red (attack) An attack on a human resulting in physical contact, injury or death. (A dispatch center and local law enforcement will be notified.)

Why Act Now?

According to  Officer Dinh, “Spring is around the corner. Not only is this important all year, but especially now when we have our best chance to discourage the coyotes from getting comfortable and/or planning on procreating within the vicinity. It is very important to disinvite them before they become the distant cousin that was only supposed to stay for the weekend.”

How Can I Get Involved?

Come to the Town Hall meeting on March 2…and bring your neighbors!  More information will be provided at the meeting, and you’ll be able to decide whether or not Wildlife Watch is something you’d like to bring to your neighborhood.

Wildlife Watch Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday, March 2
7:00 p.m.
The Ebell of Los Angeles
741 S. Lucerne Blvd.

Written by Elizabeth Fuller for the Larchmont Buzz


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