Whittier Weighs Air Guns to Combat Coyotes

Residents in the city say the coyotes are terrorizing their neighborhoods.

The Whittier City Council is weighing the possibility of using air guns to scare off coyotes that are killing people's pets.

The new plan would have the city hire a part-time wildlife manager to use an air gun to fire small, water-filled pellets at the coyotes. The pellets would not seriously injure the animals.

"It's a negative noise interaction, so when they hear the noise they associate it with something bad and will move on," said Whittier Director of Administrative Services Rod Hill. "So every time they see a person, they will have a tendency to move away from the people."

Residents in the city say the coyotes are terrorizing their neighborhoods.

Faye Hill was horrified when one of the animals killed her 6-pound Maltese. "All I heard was a yelp and she was gone," she said.

Like others, Hill thinks the air gun solution does not go far enough. She wants the coyotes relocated or killed.

Byron Holtzclaw built a special kennel for his dogs after coyotes killed his cat. He is worried a child could be attacked, like when one of the animals bit a 6-year-old boy on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles.

The chances of people being attacked in Whittier are not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Cellphone video shared with NBC4 shows just how comfortable the coyotes have become, the animals roaming freely in the Friendly Hills neighborhood, walking down the street and even jumping over high fences.

"I think they're too aggressive already," said Joanne Frisco-Stathoulis. "We try scaring them off ourselves and instead of running they look at us like, 'Yeah, lady? I'm not going anywhere; you're gonna go somewhere.'"

City officials, however, say they have been advised by wildlife experts that air guns are the way to go.

Eventually, a team of volunteers could be trained to use the guns. The city is also doing a public education program, teaching residents to never feed wildlife. 

A Tuesday night vote on the air guns was deferred to a future meeting to allow officials to gather more details on the training program for staff and volunteers using the guns.

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