Taken at Canyonlands National Park, Spring 2008

Social media users tapped into Santa Monica networks may have noticed that posts about coyote sightings seem to be popping up more than usual in recent weeks. But is the number of the animals in the city actually on the rise?

Santa Monica Animal Control and Shelter Administrator Robert Silverstein says no.

While he acknowledged his office has received more reports of coyote sightings than usual recently, he doesn’t think this is necessarily reflective of their prevalence in the city, but rather in response to a recent spate of coyote-related incidents in the San Fernando Valley that have been picked up by TV news, including multiple dogs being killed and a toddler being attacked.

“Phone calls to our office seem to correlate around when there’s an incident in the media,” he said. “When there’s an incident in the media it is then usually followed by us receiving more phone calls of people reporting that they saw a coyote in the street or walking in their neighborhood and they wanted to let us know about it.”

While he said his office is the right place to call regarding wild animals in the city, he added that there is no need to report them unless the animal seems to be threatening safety in some way.

“When it would be appropriate to call our office or police dispatch would be if the animal is injured, if they can see visible signs of injury, if the animal looks physically sick… and obvious aggression,” he said. “Whether it’s instead of showing fear and running away, it’s wanting to continue to approach or showing signs that it wants to be aggressive, then it would be appropriate to call us.”

One of the recent calls his office received was about a coyote who was spotted at the cemetery approaching people. He said his office responded and while they did see the animal they were unable to capture it. The cemetery then hired a private trapper to address the issue.

Silverstein reminded residents that while it is important to be cautious around wild animals, their presence in the city should not be cause for alarm.

“They do live in Santa Monica in various places along with other wildlife that we have naturally living within the city limits,” he said. “Just seeing one walking around is a natural thing so we don’t need to be called just if somebody sees one.”

In his nearly 10 years with the City he said he has never been aware of a coyote causing any harm to humans. He encourages residents to take basic precautions such as not leaving food outdoors, keeping an eye on pets and giving the animal space if they do come across them.

“If the animal looks healthy and it’s not causing any harm, it’s not showing signs of distress or aggression, the best thing for the public to do is just leave them alone,” he said. “They are naturally occurring in our city, we have a variety of animals throughout the city and coyotes are just one.”

For more information about coyotes in Santa Monica and what to do if you need to report one visit: https://www.santamonica.gov/blog/how-to-live-safely-with-urban-coyotes



Grace Adams

Grace Adams is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University where she studied Spanish and journalism. She holds a Master’s degree in investigative journalism from City, University of London. She has experience...