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Editorial:

No, really, don’t feed them

February 25, 2010

The frustrating thing about the food chain is that it prevents win-win solutions.

Right now, Huntington Beach faces the problem of what to do about the coyotes that have recently preyed on animals and threatened families.

In a situation like this, nearly every side has a legitimate need.

Do we favor the parents who want to protect their children and pets, the environmentalists who want to preserve the ecosystem or the coyotes that are simply doing what coyotes must do?

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Clearly, it’s not a problem whose resolution is bound to please everyone. For the moment, the city has taken a compromise approach, planning to educate residents about how to avoid an attack while hiring a trapper to help catch and euthanize coyotes. Though that solution presents moral gray areas, we support the city’s plan. Police and other officials are ultimately responsible for protecting citizens, and the newly adopted policies appear likely to do just that.

We don’t, however, believe the city should shoulder the entire burden in fighting coyotes. Even if the traps succeed in catching coyotes, we doubt they will put a huge dent in the local population. So we encourage residents to heed officials’ advice and do what they can to keep coyotes out of their yards in the first place — whether by keeping pets locked inside, trimming shrubbery or not leaving out pet food where hungry coyotes are likely to find it.

Coyotes are predators, but as mostly nocturnal animals, they rarely pose a threat during daylight hours, and almost never attack humans.

We sympathize with the environmentalists who spoke at this week’s City Council meeting against the traps. Coyotes, like them or not, are a part of the ecosystem, and our neighborhoods were built on their natural terrain. Moreover, if the city devises a method to catch coyotes without having to later kill them, we urge them to pursue it.

If the choice comes down, though, to euthanizing a carnivorous animal or losing a toddler, we will regrettably opt for the former. And with a little prudent help from residents, we can hopefully reach a point where neither option is necessary.


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