The email posted (in full) below is perhaps the best email I have ever read.
A few observations:
What citizen wants to be told they have to co-exist (time to update the bumper sticker!) with a dangerous wild animal?
There is a bear on the loose in McLean, Virginia this week. If the Fairfax County Animal Control Services bureau sent out an email with the subject line “How to Co-Exist With Bears” the fine people of McLean would revolt. Tell us your plan for neutralizing the threat, or if killing them is too cumbersome/costly, at least tell us your plan for getting them out of here and into the Shenandoah Valley. (But seriously, D.C., stop trying to give us your rats.)
Whoever wrote this email is either a troll or a genius: “At this time we are recommending the use of humane “hazing techniques” designed to re-instill the fear of people for the coyotes.”
HAZING? It’s a problematic buzzword! You can’t support hazing can you? Now we’re supposed to haze coyotes? If one memory is ingrained in my brain from college, is that hazing does instill a fear of people, usually active members of the fraternity you’re pledging. (Just kidding, TKE! I was not ever hazed ever by anyone. Promise!)
Let’s jump ahead to the methods of hazing the City of Los Angeles suggests:
- Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote
- Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lid or pie pans banged together
- Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls
- Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent
The yelling and screaming part is standard fare, and reads like a Mike Birbiglia skit. However, the part about noisemakers is pure gold. I still have a lifeguard whistle somewhere in my closet. If you’ve forgotten what one of these sounds like, don’t Google it. I’ll put it this way: they’re not your run of the mill freshman orientation rape whistles — they will make your ears bleed.
Air Horns? Really? This email pretty much just deputized any Angeleno to walk around town with an air horn like they use in Billboard Top 40 songs.
“What seems to be the problem, officer?”
“Oh, my coyote self-defense air horn? Yeah, I had to use that to scare off a coyote and then he ran away.”
Anyone who has a dog knows that a leash, a poop bag and treats are a bit of a hassle to carry around in addition to the keys, wallet, and cell phone. So, it’s heartening to see a government agency suggesting you carry an air horn, bells, tin cans full of noisy things, or a pot/pan and (presumably) a spatula as well.
Some entrepreneur needs to invent a keychain coyote deterrent tin can. This is America. Make it happen. Or maybe even an air horn that you can wear around your neck like a LifeAlert. Nevermind! The email kindly informs “you can purchase small air horn ‘necklaces.'” Because that’s where I want an ear-drum shattering air horn, on a necklace. Near my face.
The email links to a Canadian ecology webpage that suggests home-made coyote deterrents, but nobody thought to check the link to see if it still works. It doesn’t, but it did three years ago. The suggestions are helpful: Tie five or six cans to a string and carry it behind you like you just got married while walking your dog! Dogs love noises like that.
Or, put 40 pennies in a pop can, duct tape the mouth of the can shut, and perhaps fashion a necklace to facilitate easy carrying of a penny can around your neck. Coyotes hate that shit.
NOTE:It is critical to use a variety of different hazing tools so the coyotes don’t get used to a single device, sound, or action.
In case your local coyote is a real dick, be sure to wear the air horn necklace and the penny can necklace.
Great suggestions so far. What’s next?
Keep the cover on the spa and keep the gate to the pool closed.
Literally everyone I know in Los Angeles has a “spa.” Is a spa like a hot tub? I always thought spas were indoors, but I am a rube from Ohio — what do I know? And these days, I hear pools are big in California.
Generally coyotes are reclusive and like to hide in brush or thickets. Thinning or clearing the undergrowth removes hiding places.
One thing that grows like crazy during a drought is grass. Make sure you don’t let that grass get too high, Angelinos! Brush is a real problem these days.
The coyote may run away, but then stop after a distance and look at you. It is important to continue to go after the coyote until he completely leaves the area.
If you’re a true American, you better charge after that coyote until he is somebody else’s problem*. (*=Unless you live on the border of town near woods or something.)
When walking your dog, make sure to follow this advice:
[Use] sticks or other objects to throw towards (but not at) the coyote
We wouldn’t want to harm the coyote or provoke it with stick throwing — we know sticks, like stones, may break our bones — but be sure run directly at it so it knows you mean business. But since words will never hurt us, be sure to yell “Go Away Coyote!” unless the coyote doesn’t speak English. My Spanish is rusty, but I think it’s something along the lines of “¡Márchese el coyote!”
All of this silliness reminds me of a famous inside-the-beltway fight between Don Young (R-AK) and George Miller (D-CA). The long and short of it was that wolves were killing dogs in Alaska, and Alaska allowed aerial hunting of wolves. Miller thought this was tragic, and his spox decried Young’s attempts to scuttle Miller’s efforts by saying:
“Americans love dogs, but they detest the cruel treatment of wolves. Alaska’s aerial hunting program is a blatant effort to skirt federal law. Fortunately, Mr. Young’s letters are helping us build overwhelming bipartisan support for Miller’s PAW Act.”
Perhaps call it the “How to Co-Exist with Wolves Act.” As for me, I side with Young and the President Thomas J. Whitmore approach: Kill them. Kill the bastards.