PAGE 1-NOV. 14, 2013

People pack town hall to protest coyote intrusion

by Ruth Osborn

staff writer


Seal Beach residents packed City Hall Chambers in Old Town Nov. 4 to find out what can be done about increasing numbers of brazen coyotes roaming flood control channels and drainage ditches to get around town.

The hundreds of feral cats that once lived at the First Street jetty have vanished, and downtown residents are now reporting missing pet cats. Small-dog owners are afraid to let dogs into their fenced yards at night, and in July, a 2-year-old girl was bitten and nearly dragged away by a coyote at a Cypress cemetery.

Seal Beach residents say urban coyotes have never been so prevalent. “I feel held hostage by the coyote, and that the coyote is training us,” said Seal Beach Councilwoman Ellery Deaton representing District 1.

“I’ve never seen it like this,” agreed resident Patty Campbell. “I saw three coyotes in College Park East the other day.”

Gates and Patrol Chief Jaime Guerrero reports that 13 coyotes have been reported around Leisure World since mid-July. His department logs sightings and reports them to the Long Beach Animal Care Services, which tracks them locally and county-wide. Coyotes have been seen in Cypress, Huntington Beach, Laguna Woods and Anaheim, in addition to Seal Beach.

Experts surmise that the increase in sightings is a perfect storm of animals displaced by highway construction that removed large areas of habitat, and an easy, bountiful food supply, including pet food and water left outside, garbage spilling out of open cans and lots of small animals.

The coyote, a species of canine, weighs between 22-30 pounds, doesn’t usually carry rabies, is highly intelligent, reclusive, avoids people and rarely bites them, and is found in every state. They are nocturnal with most activity at dawn and dusk. On average there are 12 coyote bites reported in a year in the U.S. as compared to 4.7 million dog bites, according Long Beach Animal Care Services Manager Ted Stevens.

“We encourage the healthy coexistence of the public and wildlife,” Mr. Stevens told the overflow crowd last week. “People may not realize they are feeding coyotes when they leave their pet food outside,” he said, adding that coyotes will frequent neighborhoods where food is plentiful. “Coyotes need the fear of humans to be reinstilled,” he said.

Mr. Stevens was one of five experts on a panel hosted by the City of Seal Beach to educate residents on how to handle encounters with coyotes and the best ways to keep them away from residents’ property. They stressed that people do not need to fear coyote attacks, but small pets are at risk and need to be kept indoors at night and on short leashes during walks.

Coyotes are the top predators of the local food chain, naturally feeding on smaller rodents, such as gophers, squirrels and rabbits. They are necessary to keep down the rodent population, said Gregg Smith, public affairs officer, Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station. The base contains the 956-acre National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), the only wildlife refuge in the nation that is fully enclosed by a naval facility.

Bob Schallmann, a navy biologist, said the military’s mission at the refuge is to keep a healthy ecosystem while balancing the current coyote population of 10-12. The historic average is 12-15, according to mammal surveys. The security fence surrounding the NWS makes it difficult for coyotes to get in and out, so the population there is fairly stable.

Learning to co-exist with coy otes is crucial, because studies have shown that killing or relocating the animals does not solve the problem, according to Mr. Stevens. A University of California study found that killing 75 percent of a coyote population every year for 50 years will not exterminate that population.

Another study showed that aggressively controlling coyote populations leads to coyotes increasing their reproductive rate, breeding at an earlier age and having larger litters.

“It is not a four-legged problem we have; it is a two-legged problem,” said Lt. Kent Smirl with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “They become addicted to our food sources. If you take away the food, water and shelter, they will be forced to deal with that.”

People can protect themselves by “hazing,” which uses scare tactics to reinstill fear of humans. “Everyone here who has ever owned a pet has done hazing. It is called training,” Mr. Stevens said. “It is the same thing with coyotes. They are very, very intelligent and they will learn” to avoid your neighborhood.

Hazing techniques include:

•Never approach a sick, injured or cornered coyote.

•Yell and wave your arms while approaching a coyote.

•Use noisemaker such as whistles, air horns, bells or soda cans filled with pennies to scare the coyote.

•Use projectiles such as sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls to throw at the coyote.

•Use hoses, water guns or spray bottles.

Officials want people to report coyote sightings but animal control will only respond if the coyote is sick or injured or if it is threatening or attacking a person. Seal Beach police Lt. Bob Mullins advises residents to report all coyote sightings, to Long Beach Animal Care Services, 570-7387, and/or to LW Gates and Patrol, 431-6586, ext. 377.

Coyote prevention tips:

•Feed pets indoors. Store bags of pet food indoors.

•Use trash barrels fitted with pipe clamping devices.

•Remove fallen fruit – particularly avocados, from yards and orchards. Fallen fruit will attract other food “sources” for coyotes.

•Clear brush and dense weeds around property. This deprives shelter to rodents and reduces protective cover for coyotes.

•Keep small animals indoors as much as possible, especially at night.

•Do not feed or provide water to coyotes or other wildlife.

•Do not use plastic bags as garbage containers. Coyotes will rummage through them looking for food.

•Do not put trash cans out the night before the scheduled pick up.

Put them out in the morning. Coyotes are intelligent and learn to knock them over to access food.


Medicare expert to speak Nov. 22

The Senior Medicare Patrol, in partnership with the Golden Rain Foundation, will present a talk about Medicare and the Affordable Care Act by Julie R. Schoen. She is legal council for the Health Insurance Council and Advocacy Program (HICAP), Council on Aging-Orange County.

She will speak from 1-3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 22, at Clubhouse 4. Topics include what’s new for Medicare 2014; the Affordable Care Act and the health insurance marketplace Covered California; and the Older Americans Act, which needs congressional reauthorization of funding.

For more than 10 years, she has served as a technical trainer and community educator for HICAP. Ms. Schoen also directs the Senior Medicare Patrol Project (SMP) funded by the federal Administration on Aging since 1997 for education and counseling concerning Medicare fraud and abuse in California. Ms. Schoen is a popular speaker in Southern California addressing the rights and protections of Medicare beneficiaries. She serves on various boards and committees concerning issues affecting the elderly.

—Ron Kravitz

GRF director, Mutual 15


HCC Administrator Terri Furlow to speak

Redeemer Respite Care, in partnership with The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, will light candles of care today, Nov. 14, at 1:30 p.m., as part of the National Commemorative Candle Lighting Ceremony. It is to remember the deceased who had—and to honor the over 5 million Americans who are living with—the heartbreaking disease of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

Everyone is invited to the brief ceremony that will be held in the sanctuary of Redeemer Lutheran Church. Terri Furlow, administrator of the Leisure World Health Center, will speak. Sharon Heck is the organist. Rev. Gil Moore, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church, and Rhonda Reed, chairman of Orange County Care Connections Outreach, will also participate.



ZUMBA FUN: Lisa Dickson of Mutual 1 writes: The Zumba Halloween lesson Oct. 30 had spooky attire, and spirited dancers were filled with vitality for every Zumba dance. Everyone is welcome to check out Zumba classes, which are held daily in LW. For times and locations, see this week’s Health section.


THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER: The Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce will host a Thanksgiving feast for people who cannot be with family or friends on that day. The dinner will be held Nov. 28 at St. Anne’s Catholic Church, 340 10th St., Seal Beach. Bingo and pictures will begin at 11 a.m., with dinner served at noon. Canned food donations will be made to Food Finders. For more information, call 799-0179. RSVP by Nov. 25.


THANKSGIVING FOR VETS: A free Thanksgiving Day dinner to thank veterans for their service and sacrifice will be held Nov. 28 in Clubhouse 4 from noon-2 p.m. The dinner is sponsored by Senior Patriots for Peace and Military Families Speak Out. The event will feature entertainment and gifts for veterans. Reservations are required by calling Ron Kravitz, dinner chairman, 795-1800; volunteers must register in advance by calling Judy Kravitz at the same number. Donations are welcome; proceeds will be used to benefit homeless vets through Veterans First, which operates nine shelters in Orange County.


NEUROPATHY SUPPORT: Carol Bancroft of Mutual 14 wants to find a neuropathy support group in the Seal Beach area. She would like to know if anyone has gone for treatment by the chiropractor that advertises in the paper and holds seminars with a free meal at Marie Callendars. If you can help, call her at 296-8875.


BLANKETS FOR HOMELESS: GRF employee employee Bill Salazar is collecting blankets for the homeless who live on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Bring donations to The News Office.


Thanksgiving to be observed Nov. 25

The Thanksgiving community service for Leisure World will be held at 7 p.m., Monday, Nov. 25 in St. Andrews Clubhouse 4.

Leisure World churches, the synagogue and fellowships will participate in a program of gratitude to God. The event is hosted by the Leisure World Interfaith Council. Rev. James Oliver, council president, invites all residents, regardless of faith affiliation, to attend. The program will include special music, congregational singing, Old and New Testament readings, a reading of the Presidential Proclamation and prayers of praise. Fellowship and refreshments will follow the program.


Deadlines changed for the holidays

Because of the Thanksgiving holiday Nov. 28 and 29, there will be early editorial and advertising deadlines for the Golden Rain News. The editorial deadline is 4 p.m., Nov. 26, for the Dec. 5 edition. The advertising deadline is noon, Nov. 27, for the Dec. 5 edition.