By Andrew Shortall
2:04 PM PST, November 20, 2012
An agenda item submitted by Huntington Beach City Councilman Devin Dwyer that recommended employing a licensed trapper for $4,000 to deal with the city's coyote population drew 34 public speakers and no support among council members Monday.
The council amended the proposal and decided to insert informational brochures on the presence of coyotes in the city's water bills on a 6-0-1 vote, with Bohr not present for the vote, after hearing the public's concerns over the issue.
Dwyer suggested hiring a trapper due to the Huntington Beach Police Department receiving 200 calls on coyote sightings and 26 reports of pets being killed by coyotes in the past year.
"I am not trying to eliminate the coyote population," he said. "I am trying to mitigate the problem and take out the aggressive ones."
Police Chief Kenneth Small said the department had looked into hiring a trapper but put it off until the matter appeared before the council. He said the department would resume that process if the council didn't take action.
Boardman said the city is already able to hire trappers to address specific problem areas. She maintained random trapping would be ineffective and reminded the public to call the police if they encounter a dangerous coyote that's lost its fear of humans.
"Coyotes are everywhere in Huntington Beach," Boardman said. "It doesn't matter where you live. They're all around us. They're not going away."
The majority of the public speakers agreed with Boardman, saying trapping and killing coyotes is ineffective and unethical, and pushed for more public education.
"The burden shouldn't be on me to tell you trapping coyotes doesn't work," Huntington Beach resident Maria Young said. "It should be on you. Where is the evidence to show this method works?"
Many residents didn't claim to have an answer, but said the city needed to address the problem and educate its citizens.
Residents Wendy Tochihara and Cindi Jordan said they'd never realized there were coyotes in Huntington Beach until they found their cats had been killed by one.
"It's a public-safety issue and something needs to be done before a child is mauled or killed," Tochihara said.
An emotional Jordan displayed pictures of cats that had been killed by coyotes.
"We have an issue," she said. "I don't know how to solve it. I just know I have cats that like to go outside and shouldn't have to worry about getting eaten… I didn't know there were coyotes here. If I would have known, my other cats might be alive."