The Great Griffith Park Coyote Massacre of 2009

Prompted by an alleged coyote attack in August and another last Wednesday night wherein a man sleeping on the ground near Travel Town reportedly woke up to find a coyote biting his foot, California Department of Fish & Game wasted no time dispatching wildlife trappers who spent Thursday and Sunday in Griffith Park hunting and killing seven of the creatures.

As an unabashed coyote admirer who’s had a number of uneventful close coyote encounters all over Los Angeles, the tragic kicker of it all, as reported by the L.A. Times, is that having not been able to collect the attacking animal’s DNA from the victim’s foot, there’s no way of knowing if the culprit is among the seven carcasses collected.

But Fish & Game officials don’t let such pertinent bits of evidence keep them from raining death on a whole bunch of otherwise innocent coyote flesh, especially since the department can stand stoic and clenched behind a policy of wholesale slaughter if there’s deemed to be a danger to the public (or at least that segment of it that despite all the “Warning: Dangerous Animals” signage posted throughout the park decides it’s entirely fine to lay oneself out on the grass after dark and go night-night).

My point being this wasn’t a rogue coyote rampantly or randomly attacking someone in their Atwater Village driveway. This was a creature in its familiar environment who made the mistake of sampling what it thought was the best buffet ever.

But the state agency in charge doesn’t see any difference.

“Somebody getting bitten is an imminent threat,” said Fish & Game biologist Kevin Brennan to the Times.

If the park’s surviving coyotes could I’m sure they’d yell “No shit! To us!”

19 Replies to “The Great Griffith Park Coyote Massacre of 2009”

  1. Who decides to have a nap on the ground in Travel Town? I’m no fan of the mangy creatures and don’t want to say he had it coming, but common sense man.

    And if this is anything more than senseless coyote bloodshed, how does killing seven of them solve anything? Is that supposed to be population control?

  2. I’m with you, Will. I love coyotes for so many reasons. I admire their ability to survive and I think they represent the limitations of man’s pave-the-planet grasp. And as a side benefit, they periodically kill off one of those annoying pocket dogs, which is a community service. (I kid!)

    So thanks for the post, and I’m sorry to tread on it. I just felt a sudden urgency about tomorrow’s election.

  3. Thanks Travis — exactly: There has never been a predator so successful that man has so systematically attempted to exterminate. PS. No prob about the treading.

    Nathan, I’ve heard of studies that have shown that such culling tactics against coyotes have backfired, meaning other coyotes will either move in to replace the decreased population or the existing coyotes will replenish their numbers through breeding.

  4. For several months we had some bedding down in our back yard.

    Yes, there were some cats missing. But there were also some dead, half-eaten rats in my back yard on at least three occasions … so they were doing their part to control the vermin of the area and I was grateful for that.

    I think they’re back as the missing cats posters are on an uptick. Well, they might now be moving to Griffith Park … I hear there are some vacancies in that prime “foot eatin’ area.”

  5. This news of killing the coyotes is just devastating!! I jog there almost every day and have been since 2003,and I always see the coyotes.They have become a staple of the park and everyone loves them! They have NEVER EVER hurt anyone!!As a matter of fact,park-goers refer to them as “friends”. That is THEIR home,not ours! Who the hell decides to sleep in a park whee homeless people roam only to get the coyotes that reside there in trouble? I am furious about all this! We have to speak up! This was so wrong! I never knew the Dept of Agriculture took such barberic steps to resolve an issue that was not a problem to begin with!!!

  6. It is a shame that the stupidity of a few cause the extermination of many. That could be said about many events in history.

    I’m not a big fan of the fact that coyotes use cats as a snack, but what do we expect? We’re driving them out of their habitats by building McMansions in areas that were once unpopulated. Of course they’re going to move where there’s food. And killing a random amount is not going to help. Ugh.

  7. I run in Griffith Park all the time too, and often see coyotes. They generally either ignore me or run away. But I’ve been hearing that coyotes are getting more comfortable around humans because they’re being fed by them.

    There needs to be more enforcement of the “no feeding wild animals” ordinance. Big signs along the roads, in picnic areas and at trailheads, spelling out, in no uncertain terms, that feeding ANY wild animals is subject to a large fine. Minimum $2500 would probably be good.

  8. I suppose it was only a matter of time after the fire before this would happen. The destruction in habitat and game for the coyotes that survived, combined with the drought, is causing the coyote to starve and therefor become more aggressive. Has much as I hate to think of slaughter of innocents. I suspect these animals where suffering greatly from starvation, and that there had become to high a number of coyotes to be sustained on that small patch of earth in the middle of the urban jungle. It would be nice if we created more green belts so that they could travel further to forage and not end up in this situation, unfortunately…the fire and drought truly have long term consequences for the wildlife we love.

    And I am pretty sure the person sleeping in the park would have rather been in a bed somewhere…

  9. What a tragedy! What idiot decides to go beddy-bed in a park where coyotes are not the predators,but rather, people are? Have you driven past there in the early evenings? It is a total pick up joint!!! What was that jerk thinking to fall asleep barefoot? Crazy moron!

    The coyotes and other wildlife merely reside there so we have to accept and respect that!!

    SHAME SHAME on the Department of Agriculture!!! I will NEVER support them again!

  10. Sigh…animal control just doesn’t get it sometimes. Control doesn’t mean kill them off. If worse came to worse moving them to a new location that is underpopulated is the better solution.

  11. 1. A park is to be enjoyed for whatever purpose. It is ridiculous to fault a guy taking a nap as tho he were doing something wrong. In fact, the man’s report did a service – what if it had been a baby napping? Park authorities need to know when coyotes are foraging too close to humans. It’s a recipe for tragedy.

    2. Coyote nibbling on foot is a sign of hunger – not an attack on the sleeping man. The guy didn’t lose his foot – he just reported the coyote’s lack of fear of man.

    3. Snarky comments about coyotes eating pocket dogs and jokes at Jessica Simpson’s expense are cruel. People love their pets in a deep and emotional way – it is devastating when they are killed. Just because she is a celebutard does not mean she doesn’t deserve the same sensitivity in this case as if someone you knew personally had lost their pet.

  12. Park makes a good point — especially about being insensitive to the tragedies of others. But suggesting that the victim whose foot was allegedly bitten could have easily been a napping baby is pushing things a tad. This wasn’t someone dozing next to Shane’s Inspiration on a busy Saturday afternoon. And as to the proximity of coyotes to humans, we’re ultimately responsible for that habituation: whether we’re catching some zzzs alone in the park after dark, or intentionally feeding them.

    The best thing we can do if and when we come into any close contact with a coyote is to reinforce the animal’s natural wariness of us. Make noise and big gestures. Move toward it. Doing that may very well prevent the next foot from being nipped and Fish & Game from calling in the trapper/killers to slaughter the next batch.

  13. Team Coyote here, too. I witnessed one galloping (do coyotes gallop?) down my street early yesterday morning. So cool!

  14. HEY GUYS! SPREAD THE WORD! THIS IS TIME SENSITIVE. I RECEIVED AN EMAIL ABOUT A TOWN MEEING THAT WILL BE HELD ON THIS SUBJECT. WE ARE THEIR VOICE SO PLEASE ATTEND! WE CAN HELP SAVE THE FUTURE COYOTES.

    Councilman LaBonge’s office said that they are holding a public information meeting on what occurred at Griffith Park Tuesday, Sept 29 at 6:30 at the Russian Orthodox Church (Russian Orthodox Church, 650 Micheltorena St,Los Angeles, CA 90026-3623.)

  15. Thanks for this, Will.

    There seems to be absolutely no info on the first “incident”, and that guy didn’t even go to the hospital. I suspect homeless, in at least one of these alleged attacks, too.

    Is this a gay pickup area? I wouldn’t know, and LA is way too politically correct to actually suggest that anywhere. If anyone here knows that, as someone here suggested, info would be appreciated.

  16. Hi Donna, Based on what I have seen…Yes, seems like males meeting males and hiking up in the trails after they meet. They make it quite obvious also,that they are meeting.

    What they do afterward, I have no clue.

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