Guest Opinion: Greg Stewart

Seventy-eight year Laguna resident shares an article he wrote which was published in OC 11-29-2018. Coyote interest and concern in OC is growing.

Here’s what he had to say on coyote-human conflicts which is relevant today.

Urban Coyotes In Laguna Beach

With Orange County urban coyote problems more frequently in the news and to get a better understanding of these events, maybe it’s time to take a look at the history/evolution of coyote-human conflicts in Orange County.

From the mid 1800’s to the mid 1900’s, as wildlands were being converted to agricultural uses in a mostly rural Orange County, coyotes were trapped, poisoned and shot by farmers, ranchers and others as killers of livestock and poultry. The surviving coyotes quickly learned to avoid direct human contact.

By the mid 1900’s, land use in Orange County began changing from humans living off the land to humans living on the land. As agricultural land started giving way to a more suburban less lethal environment for coyotes, Some coyotes soon learned that the risk of nighttime foraging into these new landscapes was a much less lethal and more productive strategy than their past encounters with armed farmers and ranchers.

Suburban areas with an almost inexhaustible supply of trash, pet food and small pets soon proved an irresistible new habitat for opportunistic coyotes living near our cities.

These new suburban coyotes, with little fear of people, soon learned to live in our cities, not just near them. In many cities, nighttime hunting was supplemented with increasingly bold daytime activities. With an ample food source, the number and survival rate of pups increased and populations soared to levels unsustainable in their natural habitat. These young coyotes were taught the art of urban foraging by their parents, who were now skilled at finding urban food sources, which sometimes includes our pets. We now have multiple generations of coyotes living amongst us, with no link to the remaining wildlands that are left in Orange County.

As these coyotes lost even more fear of people, they expanded deeper into our cities becoming more aggressive sometimes taking small dogs off the leash or attacking humans even in broad daylight.

Coyotes now can be found in most Orange County cities, not just those with wildland borders or those places still expanding into wild areas. Some suburban coyotes have morphed into urban predators, living tens of miles from wildlands, deep in some of our most populated areas of Orange County and Southern California.

Below is a list of predictable increasingly aggressive coyote behaviors prepared by Rob Timm, PhD, UC Hopland, CA and Rex Baker PhD, Cal Poly Pomona, CA. Unfortunately, some coyotes in many Orange County cities have already reached number seven on this list.

Predictable Sequence of Increasingly Aggressive Coyote Behaviors

1. Increase in coyotes on streets and in yards at nights

2. Increase in coyotes non-aggressively approaching adults and/or taking pets at night

3. Coyotes on streets and in parks and yards, in early morning and/or late afternoon

4. Coyotes chasing or taking pets in daytime

5. Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or near owners, chasing joggers, bicyclists, and other adults

6. Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in mid-day

7. Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults in mid-day

Coyotes didn’t have to lose natural habitat to take advantage of our food rich unnatural environment. They will adapt to and take advantage of any environment that will sustain them. Urban coyotes seem to be better at learning to live with us than we are at trying to understand or control them.

Some of our relationship with urban coyotes is similar to our relationship with our pet dogs. Either the dog owners establish themselves as the alpha (dominant) member of the pack (family), or the dog will come to view itself as the alpha member of the pack. In many ways we have failed to exhibit dominant views toward urban coyotes. With many years of passive attitudes towards urban coyotes, why would anyone be surprised that some urban coyotes have developed an alpha attitude towards us, much like unruly, poorly trained pet dogs?

So the question seems to be after neglecting our coyote problem for so long, what do we in laguna beach do now? At this point hazing will have little effect. Likewise removing outdoor pet food, garden fruit and vegetables might have some, if limited impact, mainly due to lack of compliance. Keeping small pets and children indoors would work, but would not be practical or popular. Relocating trapped coyotes is not an option – first it’s illegal, but more importantly, released coyotes would be in conflict with existing coyotes in the release area. Although, it is true that removing problem coyotes will provide new opportunities for other/younger coyotes, much like when we trap and kill the rats and mice in our yards and houses, or pull weeds in our gardens, most of us know new ones will soon fill the voids created by removing the established ones. We remove them to keep them at a manageable level. Unfortunately, it looks like we are left with one unpleasant but necessary solution – trapping and euthanizing the problem coyotes living in our cities.

Guest Opinion: MJ Abraham

MJ Abraham is a retired former City Government Communications Manager & Principal Management Analyst and Art Museum Director living in Laguna Beach since 1970. MJ is the Founder of Laguna Beach promoting Laguna Beach City Hall Accountability and Transparency.

How Safe Do You Feel In Laguna

The City of Laguna Beach Police Department issued a press release via Nextdoor social media on 4/18/2024. The 2023 Violent and Property Crimes report which includes statistic comparisons to 2021 and 2022 is included here for review.

The report comes on the heels of multiple requests by Councilman George Weiss to see the annual crime report as well as residents showing increased concern for crime in their neighborhoods and community. Residents pay for city services and public safety/police protection tops the critical services list.

We should thank CC Weiss for requesting this important public safety information. Note: The 2023 CLB Crime Statistics Report has not been presented to City Council nor the public at this time so no public discussion has take place yet.

Lots of questions arise from a safety report like this. Factors such as public safety manpower, costs associated with the statistics and by whom/where the crimes are being committed would be very helpful. At one time or another we have all experienced the need for police services and eight been pleased or disappointed.

LBCHAT would love to hear from our residents and businesses. What’s your take and how do you interpret the reported statistics? For instance, I personally found interesting the attention to auto thefts – are we actually seeing this many auto thefts within our community or are these auto thefts passing through? Lets hear it all fellow Lagunian’s! It will be good feedback for our city leaders and police chief.

Press Release: 2023 Laguna Beach Crime Statistics Show Overall Decrease in Violent and Property Crimes

LAGUNA BEACH, CA—The Laguna Beach Police Department is pleased to report that the City was safer in 2023, as violent and property crimes decreased overall for the third consecutive year. The 2023 crime statistics show an overall 7% decrease in Part 1 violent and property crimes compared to 2022 and a 9% overall decrease since 2021

The 2023 crime statistics show LBPD observed a 26% decline in auto theft, effectively reducing the number from 47 incidents in 2022 to 35 in 2023. Additionally, there was a commendable 6% decrease in larceny cases. In 2023, there were four more reported robberies than the previous year. Weapons were involved in only two of the robberies, demonstrating that the use of weapons in these incidents is relatively uncommon

“This reduction in overall crime is a testament to the unwavering passion of our police force, coupled with the incredible support of our community,” remarked Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert. “While we take pride in this achievement, our mission to transform into the safest coastal community in Orange County remains our top priority. We are committed to sustaining exceptional policing practices and fostering meaningful community partnerships to realize this goal.”

This year’s crime statistics demonstrate the outstanding efforts of our police department and the strong support of our community in maintaining Laguna Beach as a safe and welcoming place,” stated Laguna Beach Mayor Sue Kempf. “The significant reductions in overall crime rates are a testament to our ongoing commitment to public safety. Under the steadfast leadership of Police Chief Jeff Calvert, we will continue working together to uphold and enhance the safety and well-being of our City.”

The Laguna Beach Police Department remains dedicated to providing exemplary service, maintaining the highest standards, and ensuring the safety and well-being of all Laguna Beach residents and visitors. Click here to view the press release on the city’s website.