In the 14 years that Frank Medina has lived in Eagle Rock—on a hilly stretch of Las Flores Drive, just east of Eagle Vista—he has seen coyotes many times. But the coyote Medina has seen lately is by far the biggest and scariest.
“He’s not aggressive—he knows people are there, so he keeps his distance—but he shows himself,” says Medina, who directs the L.A. County Community Development Commission’s Traffic Violator School Monitoring Program.
Medina’s most recent encounter with the coyote was on Jan. 3. The coyote was about 30 yards away, on Las Flores Drive, “something red and shiny” visible on the shoulder, recalls Medina. “I couldn’t tell if it was an injury or blood from an animal.”
Neighbor’s Cat Killed
It seems pretty likely that the coyote's shoulder had another animal's blood. A couple of days before New Year’s Eve, Medina's next-door neighbor, Randy Levine, stumbled upon the remains of Nuage, Levine's female cat, in his backyard.
Both Levine and Medina reckon the coyote had almost certainly killed and eaten Nuage, whose loss has been hard on Levine. "We are really distraught," he says. "She was incredibly sweet and loving—a member of our family and we love her more than words can say."
On the day Nuage was killed, recalls Levine, he came home and saw the coyote in his driveway. The coyote then went into Medina’s property. It was early afternoon.
In subsequent days, the coyote returned to Levine's property thrice "in the middle of the day and then a couple evenings—looking for my other cat Nuit and Frank’s cat Lucky," says Levine.
Last week, Medina called the Department of Animal Care and Control after he saw the bloodied coyote. “They said they would send out someone who goes after wild animals but I haven’t heard anything so far,” says Medina, adding: “I’m very apprehensive because of the pets we have in the area.”
Medina and his wife Patricia Perez, an active member of the Eagle Rock High School Booster Club, have four cats. Medina isn’t so worried about three of the felines who are upward of 10 years old and are always indoors. The fourth cat, however, is four years old and is used to being outdoors. Named Lucky, he “rolls around all day and wanders from yard to yard,” says Medina, adding: “Now that the coyote has been sighted, we keep him inside.”
Warning on NELA Listserv
Medina isn’t the only one trying to protect his pets. His other next-door neighbor, Wendy Lang, who has lived in the same house on Kipling Avenue since 1978, is terrified of letting Checkers, her 14-and-a-half-year-old tortoise-shell calico, out even for a minute.
On Jan. 7, Lang posted a warning on a Northeast L.A. Yahoo listserv. “There have been several sightings over the past few weeks of a large, well-fed coyote near Kipling and Las Flores,” she wrote. “Some pets have already been killed. One sighting saw blood on its shoulder, so it could be injured and thus dangerous even to small children. Animal control said they could do nothing to help. I think our community could join forces to take care of this situation. So be warned to keep you pets safe!!”
Lang’s warning prompted a stinging reply on the Nelaist listserv. “You could kindly move yourself to the inner city away from this wildlife that was there before Eagle Rock was established,” said a commentator identified as John Garcia. “If it were up to people like you, we wouldn’t have any wildlife left.”
The response has upset Lang, who feels that she has been misinterpreted. “I have no intention of wiping out wildlife,” she says. “I love all animals.”
Medina figures that the area where he and Lang live is part of the coyote’s stomping ground. “We’re just keeping our eyes open—because the thing is, we’ve seen him at midday,” he says. “I’m very apprehensive because of the pets we have in the area.”
What worries Medina is the possibility that the coyote is injured and that it has taken refuge in someone’s yard. “I don’t know if it’s male or female—they hang out in packs, so there must be more than one,” he says, adding: “I’m not saying we need to kill him, but something more humane needs to be done—there must be a way of taking him elsewhere.”
The question is how—and where. “I respect their freedom,” says Medina of coyotes, “but how wild can they be if they live in an urban area?”
For information about coyotes, including alerts, click here to view the Los Angeles Animal Services website.
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Frank Medina found the remains of Randy Levine's cat Nuage. It was Levine who found the remains—not Medina.