Human-Coyote Encounters Becoming Common in Urban Jungle

The urban jungle of Los Angeles has a king. It is undoubtedly the mountain lion known as P22.

"He's been here for a couple of years now," said Gregory Randall, LA's wildlife specialist.

But ever since the tar pits first bubbled, LA has had one constant carnivore: coyotes.

Now meet the jungle’s lawman, assigned to put some distance between us.

For almost a quarter of a century, Randall has served as the city of LA's wildlife specialist.

For the first time, only NBC4 is allowed on assignment with the entire LA Animal Services wildlife department, Randall and Zoologist Hoang Dinh.

From the hills of Porter Ranch to the shores of San Pedro, we have 465 square miles to cover.

And everywhere seems to be coyote country. Coyotes are no longer just making their homes just in the hillsides. They roam the streets, a menacing neighbor.

Coyotes. Or as some call them: killers.

"They are so brazen," said Molly Hale.

Hale was walking her small dog, Sid, in Beachwood Canyon when a coyotoe attacked the dog in the middle of the day.

"They are not afraid of humans at all," she said.

It became clear who is to blame on NBC4's first night shadowing the officers.

"Some people already put up warnings," Randall said.

Despite the signs, people are feeding coyotes.

"The coyotes don’t need our help," Randall said.

It’s illegal, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail.

"Coyotes are willing to approach, even sometimes beg for food because people have thrown food to them," Randall said, as he shared video sent to him by concerned Hollywood residents.

In it, people toss food off a balcony to coyotes who wait in anticpation. And then run up the hill – toward the home – to retreive their treat.

Feeding coyotes can put a whole neighborhood at risk, a wild animal that no longer sees a human as a threat.

"It will take years to undo the damage that we've done," Randall said.

Coyotes are not pets. Nor are they villians.

Skip Haynes is the founder of Claw -- Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife.

"If you cull a population of coyotes from your neighborhood: rats. It's goodbye Mr. Coyote. Hello Mr. Rat.

"You absolutely want coyotes in your neighborhood."

Randall said the idea is to keep the fear of humans in coyotes so they stay away from people.

"You want to raise your arms, wave your hands, stomp your feet and yell 'get out here,'" he said.

Encounters are inevitable. Some 4 million people, as many 7,000 coyotes.

For more coyote aversion tactics from the Los Angeles Animal Services, click here.

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