Tag Archives: Los Angeles

How to Co-Exist With Coyotes

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.

Full email:

How to Co-Exist with Coyotes
TIPS from Los Angeles Animal Services

Dear Angelenos,

Some neighborhoods feel they are seeing more coyote visitors this year.If accurate it may be reflective of the drought, but I’m starting to think that either people are making it easier for them to get food or the coyotes may have simply adapted to urban living and lost the fear of people. At this time we are recommending the use of humane “hazing techniques” designed to re-instill the fear of people for the coyotes.

I’d like to offer you a few tips and suggestions to keep your two and four-legged family members safe.

Four Quick Tips:

1.Do not feed Wildlife, even indirectly. 

·If you feed your companion animals outdoors, give them ten or fifteen minutes to eat and then remove the food bowls.Partially eaten food or even odiferous empty food bowls attract hungry wildlife.

·Keep trash cans tightly closed with tamper proof tops.

·Empty water containers such as outside water for companion animals or children’s pools. Keep the cover on the spa and keep the gate to the pool closed.

2.Supervise your pets and small children when outside. 

3.Remove unnecessary undergrowth that creates hiding places. 

·Generally coyotes are reclusive and like to hide in brush or thickets. Thinning or clearing the undergrowth removes hiding places.

4.Safely haze without harming them, instilling their natural fear of Humans.

·Coyotes who have adapted to urban living may realize there are few real threats and may approach people or visit yards when people are present. Safe and humane hazing can re-instill the fear of people.

·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.

Methods of Hazing

Using a variety of different hazing tools is critical so that coyotes don’t get used to redundant or single stimulus devices, sounds, and actions. Here are a few methods of hazing that I found on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) website.

·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

“Go Away Coyote!”

The simplest method of hazing a coyote involves being loud and large. Stand tall, wave your arms, and yell at the coyote, approaching him if necessary, until he runs away. If a coyote has not been hazed before, he may not immediately run away when you yell at him. If this happens, walk towards the coyote and increase the intensity of your hazing.

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.  You may need to use different tactics, such as noisemakers, stomping your feet, or spraying the coyote with a hose to get him to leave.

Dog-Walking Tools

There are several tools that you can carry with you while walking your dog that can be used to repel coyotes.  These include:

·Homemade noisemakers

·Whistle or small air horn (you can purchase small air horn “necklaces”)

·Squirt guns

·Pepper spray

·Sticks or other objects to throw towards (but not at) the coyote

In Your Yard

Remember, keeping pets and pet food inside is the best way to keep coyotes out of your yard.  If you do encounter coyotes, all of the above methods can be used in your yard at home.  First, try the “Go away coyote!” method (yell and wave your arms as you approach the coyote).  Here are some additional methods you can also use:

·Squirt the coyote with your garden hose

·Spray the coyote with vinegar water

·Bang pots and pans together

Important things to remember

NEVER run away from a coyote! The coyote may not leave at first, but if you approach him closer and/or increase the intensity of your hazing, he will run away. If the coyote runs away a short distance and then stops and looks at you, continue hazing until he leaves the area entirely.

After you have successfully hazed a coyote, he or she may return. Continue to haze the coyote as you did before; it usually takes only one or two times to haze a coyote away for good.

If you continue to experience unusual Wildlife behaviors, please contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (http://www.dfg.ca.gov). For more information regarding how to co-exist with our local Wildlife, search on or call our LA Animal Services NON EMERGENCY Wildlife phone line 323-225-WILD (9453). For any urgent animal related EMERGENCY calls (injured, orphaned (alone >24 hours), distressed, or sick animals) call your local shelter at 888-452-7381 and follow the prompts. For any Human life threatening situations call 9-1-1.

Enjoy the rest of your summer,

Brenda F. Barnette
General Manager
Los Angeles Animal Services

Could Pop-Up Hotels Solve Disaster Housing Shortages?

I read with interest a recent piece in Businessweek about an innovate company that has managed to make something akin to a hotel food truck:

This year, Snoozebox Holdings is shipping 40 to 400 stackable containers to house guests at events including Le Mans, the Edinburgh Festivals of plays and concerts, and the G8 Summit. The prebooked rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, and running hot water.

Who would want to stay in one of those, you might ask? The company, Snoozebox, has already found some markets for its product.

snooze

The answer is, mostly, rich people. However, like with most innovations, what starts as a toy or luxury for the rich (telephones, VCRs, televisions, internet) usually becomes pretty affordable and widespread.

Take the devastating tornado that recently ravaged Oklahoma. Or the one in Joplin, Missouri. Housing is one of the most needed commodities in the wake of natural disasters. Could Snoozebox, or its competitors save the day and provide a market-based solution to help people in need?

While the obvious answer is yes, the reality is probably not. Or at least not anytime soon.

Whenever an innovation disrupts the current natural order, vested interests often use the law and politicians in an attempt to stifle competition. Economists call the former “creative destruction” (good) and the latter “rent seeking” (bad).

Creative destruction, in the form of the Uber car service or food trucks, is really great for consumers. Their competition — well established taxi cabals and brick-and-mortar restaurants — don’t see it that way. They get politicians to enforce laws that would inhibit any competitor from setting up shop, and if the laws doesn’t exist for that purpose, those interests usually push politicians to pass them.

Let’s rewind the clock to a day after the tornado hit Oklahoma. You work at Bomblebox, a fictional competitor of Snoozebox. Oklahoma would be an ideal place to offer your services to a populace coping with disaster. Hotels are overbooked, people are cramped in the houses of friends — often far away from the site of their former home. There’s a natural market for the Bomblebox.

Could Bomblebox drive a couple of trucks over and set up shop somewhere? In this hypothetical, it’s unlikely.

Each of the fifty states has their own laws and regulations governing hotels and lodging. And it’s unlikely that a company not already licensed to do business there could get all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted before the window of opportunity closes.snoozebox-exterior-sunshine

Second, local hoteliers, their trade groups, and other interest groups would probably object. There are a ton of ways they could do this:

Would Bomblebox’s products be up to snuff with Chapter 285 — the part of Oklahoma law that regulates lodging establishments?  Is the plumbing consistent with the Oklahoma Plumbing License Act? Is the electricity system consistent with the Oklahoma Electrical Licensing Act? Does each unit “maintain at least one lighting fixture suitable for reading”? Do all the bathroom floors have “impervious floor surfaces?” Is the sewage disposal system consistent with “regulations adopted by the Oklahoma State Board of Health?” I don’t know.

Remember, these laws are for your safety. Created, supposedly, to protect you — but they also often serve to protect the current natural order from competition.

You get the point.

The time and money it would take to ensure compliance would probably guarantee that such a plan wouldn’t get past the research phase. There are a lot of questions to answer just to drive a box that people would pay $400 a night to stay in while watching a race or stay at a festival like Bonnaroo. Put another way, if people are willing to pay that much to stay in a box at a race or a festival, my guess it’s probably good enough for  to stay in after the wake of a disaster.

But that’s not how regulation and the natural order operate. Mutually agreed upon and beneficial transactions, even under extenuating circumstances, are often illegal outright. You’re not necessarily free to transact with others as you see fit. While FEMA does provide disaster assistance — think FEMA trailers —  some people probably would be willing to pay more, and could afford to get something a little nicer than a crappy camper because for their well being they want the comforts of home.

Let’s pretend for a second that Bomblebox is a Missouri company, and has plans to do business all over the southland to help people recover from disasters, and provide housing during political conventions and festivals.

Could Bomblebox then, had it complied with all the varying laws regulating hotels and motels, go into business? Again, the answer is probably not.

Ill-advised price gouging laws in each of the states would likely prohibit Bomblebox from charging the market rates necessary to make it profitable. And thus, local hoteliers and the government — which also hates competition — would likely object and prohibit the “evil” Bomblebox corporation from helping people at a time when they need it most.

What about renting (or selling) house-like version of the Bomblebox? At first glance, that might appear to be a better option.

But, again, the complex web of laws and regulations would make that difficult, and in addition to hoteliers, the competitors of the natural order (RV makers, prefabricated home makers) would likely throw in a monkey wrench to complicate things.

In my lifetime, we’ve seen creative destruction move at an amazingly fast pace. The days of radio-dispatched cabs that come because of a call from your home phone or payphone are over. We’re in the Uber era now, where my smartphone will get me a black sedan in mere minutes. Instead of having to go and wait in a long line to get a Georgetown cupcake, food fad fetishists can be satisfied by a 3 minute walk to Farragut Square where multiple food trucks offer similar (and often better) products with shorter lines and often at lower prices. Or, if you really have your heart set on Georgetown cupcake, Seamless can deliver it for you.

Generally speaking, our regulatory system and laws are outdated. Uber is discovering that first hand across the country, most recently in Los Angeles. The byzantine shackles of a outdated laws and regulations that keep cities (like my hometown of Cleveland) from returning to their former status of greatness exist all across the country in various degrees.

What keeps them there is politicians who cater to the special interests, and who see themselves as wizened sherpas of the regulatory Mt. Kilimanjaro rather than people whose job it is to make their constituents’ lives easier through good policy, not political dependency.

Going forward, the cities and states that recognize the burdensome constraints of outdated regulations and laws are the ones that will prosper. They’ll have the Ubers, the food trucks, and — when times are tough — people willing to provide innovative solutions to help them in their time of need.  Their citizens will lead happier, better lives, and bounce back from adversity faster than their friends in the cities and states whose leaders who let archaic policy and outdated thinking rule the day.

Few people argue for no regulations at all, but the people who think that deregulatory advocates believe this are often the very politicians who say “everything is fine.” Odds are, it’s not. And the joke’s on you if you believe them.