Two coyotes killed a domestic cat early last Thursday morning in Redondo Beach and then evaded police and escaped towards the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
At 2:55 a.m. on September 12, Redondo Beach Police received a call from a resident on the 400 block of South Gertruda Avenue who witnessed two coyotes attack and kill a cat in his front yard.
“I was finishing up my work for the night and I heard this faint crunching noise in my front yard,” said A.J. Bentley, the resident who made the call to police. “I peeked out my window and saw what looked like a cat sleeping in my front yard. And then I looked to the right saw the coyote and realized the cat had been killed.”
When Bentley noticed a second coyote to his left, he grabbed the phone and called 911. Then he grabbed a baseball bat and headed outside.
“They had turned their attention to a second cat,” Bentley said. “So I just made an aggressive push with the bat cocked and yelled.”
The coyotes retreated and the second cat was spared.
Five RBPD units of responded. According to Police Chief Joe Leonard, officers, both on foot and in vehicles, eventually spotted the coyotes at the 600 block of South Gertruda at 3:50 a.m.
The RBDP attempted to contact Los Angeles County Animal Control, with whom they have an after-hours contract. Redondo police were told that the office did not handle this type of incident and were referred to Fish and Wildlife. Fish and Wildlife informed the RBPD that they only respond to this variety of incidents when there is a direct threat to human life. They were not swayed by the RBPD’s concerns about morning commuters.
Meanwhile, the officers continued to track the two coyotes. The animals split, with one heading east on Serpentine Street and the other heading south on Juanita Avenue.
“They followed one of them through Avenues A, B, C,” Leonardi said, “while the other coyote went a more direct route to Palos Verdes Boulevard.”
The animals finally evaded the officers and were last seen at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Palos Verdes Boulevard at approximately 4:30 a.m.
“If we had seen it go after a human being, we would have killed it. We would have shot it. But that is a last resort,” Leonardi said.
“Coyotes are urban predators,” Andrew Hughan of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said. “They are in every county and every metro area. We are not going to hunt down and kill a coyote that killed a domestic animal.”
“I understand the concern and I would be horrified if I lost a pet that way,” he continued. “But if you eliminate the food source the coyotes will move on…or homeowners can hire a pest company to come in, but that’s pretty extreme.”
Coyotes are considered urban wildlife, meaning they occur in greater numbers here than they do in the wild. They are attracted to garbage, pet food, ornamental fruit and small animals.
This is the second incident involving coyotes in Redondo in recent months. On the afternoon of July 11, a coyote was spotted by residents near 190th Street and North Paulina Avenue. It, too, evaded police and animal control officers.
“It is believed that the coyotes are extending their range from areas on the Palos Verdes Peninsula,” Leonardi said.
Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, told the radio station KPCC in May that he believes the coyote population is rapidly growing in Southern California.
“We can have populations that are anywhere from 12 to 20 times greater density in suburban settings than naturally occur in the wild,” Brennan said. “It’s kind of like measuring hay in haystacks or sand on the beach. But in California, we conservatively estimate that we have about half a million coyotes in the state. So, the coyote problem is here to stay with us. It’s just keeping it at a manageable level.”
Pet owners in areas where coyotes are active are urged to keep small animals inside and larger animals inside at night. They should never leave pet food, or even a water bowl, outside.
“If the coyotes smell pet food, they’re going to jump over your seven-foot fence to get it,” Hughan said. “And if they don’t like the pet food, they’re going to wait for the pet. They’re very clever.”
“Keep your pets and your kids close,” he advised. “And if you see coyotes, call 911. That way it gets on the record. If it’s a serious problem in your area then the calls will accumulate and the sherrif’s department will call us.”
The Department of Fish and Wildlife has a project called Keep Me Wild dedicated to educating the public about wild animal management. More information on preventing the presence of coyotes is available on their website,www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild.