It is believed that more than 5,000 coyotes roam the City of Los Angeles. Thousands more live throughout the county. Mostly, these animals live in foothills in and around the city. Coyotes are highly intelligent, adaptable and possess excellent sensory abilities. Urbanized coyotes can survive on a variety of foods including garbage, feeding by people, food left out for pets and small pets themselves. Zoos have had to deal with these predators feeding on zoo exhibits. In 1987, coyotes attacked and killed 53 flamingoes at the Los Angeles Zoo. They have also victimized penguins. In 1995, coyotes again managed to kill flamingoes and a two-year-old Andean Condor. Since that incident, the zoo installed a six and a half-mile perimeter fence surrounding their facility.
Coyotes are adaptable predators, tolerant of human activities, and quick to adapt and adjust to changes in their environment. They are likely to lose natural aversion to people when competition amongst coyotes increases for sources of food. The biggest problems occur when people feed coyotes - either wittingly or unwittingly. Coyote attacks, when they occur, are commonly directed against small animals and pets. Although it is very rare, coyotes have attacked humans. There were 37 reported attacks on humans in Los Angeles County between 1978 and 2003.
|May 1978||Pasadena||5-yr-old girl bitten on left leg while in driveway of home|
|May 1979||Pasadena||2-yr-old girl attacked by coyote while eating cookies on front porch; grabbed by throat and cheek|
|Jun 1979||Pasadena||Adult male bitten on heel while picking up newspaper from front yard|
|Jul 1979||Pasadena||17-yr-old female's leg lacerated by coyotes while attempting to save dog being attacked|
|Jul 1979||Pasadena||Coyote bit adult male on legs while jogging; climbed tree to escape|
|Aug 1979||La Verne||Coyote grabbed 5-yr-old girl and attempted to drag her into bushes. Suffered deep bites on neck, head, and legs before saved by father and a neighbor|
|July 1980||Agoura Hills||13-month-old girl grabbed and dragged off by coyote. Suffered puncture wounds to midsection before being saved by mother|
|Aug 1981||Glendale||3-yr-old girl killed in front yard by coyote; massive bleeding and broken neck|
|Oct 1994||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Man with no shirt or shoes bitten by coyote (5 PM)|
|Mar 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Man with no shirt bitten by coyote (Noon)|
|Mar 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Coyote stalked and then knocked down 5-yr-old girl twice; mother rescued child (Daytime)|
|Jun 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Woman in shorts, barefoot, preparing food, bitten by coyote (Daytime)|
|Jul 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Man bitten by coyote while sleeping on lawn (2:45 PM)|
|Jul 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Man bitten by coyote while sleeping on lawn (4 PM)|
|Jul 1995||Griffith Park (Los Angeles)||Coyote was chased away once; then returned to attack 15-mo-old girl in jumpsuit; child suffered bites to leg (4 PM)|
|Sep 1997||Pomona||Man was stalked, then attacked by two coyotes, and bitten on ankle (Early evening, daylight)|
|May 1999||Canyon Country||Coyote attacked dog in yard, and would not cease attack; man scratched in melee (Night)|
|Nov 1999||Hollywood Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyote attacked and killed pet dog in man’s presence; coyote would not leave (Morning)|
|Apr 2001||Pomona||54-year-old woman fought, using an axe handle, with a large coyote that had attacked small poodle in back yard. Received bite on leg, and despite her efforts, the coyote killed the poodle and jumped over fence carrying the carcass (4:30 PM)|
|Jun 2001||Northridge (Los Angeles)||7-year-old girl attacked and seriously injured by a coyote, despite mother's attempts to fight off the coyote (7 PM)|
|Aug 2001||Hollywood Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyotes bit man 8 times as he was defending his dog against their attack (11:50 PM)|
|Aug 2001||Chatsworth (Los Angeles)||Two coyotes came into yard and took pet cat out of hands of 19-mo-old toddler|
|Sep 2001||Agoura||Woman attacked by coyote when she attempted to stop its attack on her small dog (7:15 AM)|
|Sep 2001||Lancaster||Man walking encountered 4 coyotes, which crouched, circling him, attempting to attack. Fought off with walking stick, hitting one square across the face (Morning)|
|Nov 2001||La Habra Heights||Coyote on golf course ran up to woman, jumped on her back, and bit her on right forearm (Daytime)|
|Dec 2001||San Gabriel||Coyote bit 3-yr-old girl in head; grabbed her shoulder in an attempt to drag her off Father chased coyote off (7:30 PM)|
|May 2002||Los Angeles||Coyote attacked man walking his dog|
|Jul 2002||Woodland Hills (Los Angeles)||Adult female attacked by coyote, bitten on arm (6 AM)|
|Jul 2002||Woodland Hills (Los Angeles)||Adult male bitten on boot by coyote when he inadvertently came upon it between car and garage|
|Jul 2002||Canoga Park (Los Angeles)||Woman walking 2 large dogs accosted by 3 coyotes; fell backward and fended coyotes off|
|Aug 2002||Mission Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyote approached couple walking dog, attempting to snatch dog out of man’s arms; left only after being kicked (4 AM)|
|Nov 2002||Woodland Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyote scaled 6-ft wall into yard, attacked and killed small dog in presence of owner; in melee, woman kicked coyote, then fell and fractured her elbow and was attacked and scratched by coyote (1 PM)|
|Feb 2003||Lake View Terrace (Los Angeles)||Jogger bitten (tooth scrape on ankle) by coyote after jogging past neighborhood coyote feeding station|
|May 2003||Woodland Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyote acted aggressively toward man after he intervened during its attack on his dog|
|May 2003||Woodland Hills (Los Angeles)||Coyote came into residence to attack small pet dogs (2 PM)|
|Jul 2003||Granada Hills (Los Angeles)||Boy walking family’s 2 dogs attacked by 3 coyotes; one dog was killed and the other injured; rescued by father|
|Nov 2003||Claremont||Man and his dog attacked by 3-4 coyotes; he defended himself, hitting several coyotes with his walking stick (8 AM)|
Source: Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem, Hopland Research & Extension Center, University of California research paper, March 3, 2004, by Rex O. Baker, Joe R. Bennett, and Craig C. Coolahan
By the 1940s, mountain lions were thought to have been eradicated from Los Angeles. Now, naturalists estimate that about two dozen mountain lions (also known as pumas or cougars) prowl the Santa Monica Mountain range that bisects the City of Los Angeles. In 2004, a mountain lion was first seen prowling Griffith Park (now tagged and designated "P-22"), believed to have arrived there via urban water channels from the Santa Monica Mountains. These big cats, weighing up to 150 pounds and able to range up to 200 square miles, hunt at night and prey on small game, deer, and, on occasion, unfortunate stray pets. Mountain lions have attacked and, in fact, killed bicyclists, hikers and runners in Southern California. The only verified mountain lion attack (according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife) on a human in Los Angeles County was a non-fatal attack on a 27-year-old adult male on Mount Lowe in the San Gabriel Mountains in March 1995. The cyclist was bitten and cut by the mountain lion, but fought off the animal with rocks. The mountain lion was subsequently tracked down and killed. In January 2004, in nearby Orange County, two cyclists were attacked by a mountain lion in a regional park, one fatally.
Life is precarious for mountain lions in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Not only do they face natural threats such as interspecies violence from increasingly being crowded into smaller habitats, predators eating their young, and from inbreeding, but they face urban threats from motor vehicles and rat poison in thier food chain and even, in one case, poaching. A 2016 joint UCLA/National Park Service study concluded that the Los Angeles region's mountain lion population faces possible extinction in 50 years.
About 40,000 years ago, Los Angeles saw the likes of a larger, considerably more powerful cat called the saber-tooth cat. These were as large as African lions yet considerably more powerful with large deadly canines measuring up to eight inches. In 2000, author Jeff Rovin brought them back to life to terrorize Southern California in his fictional novel Fatalis.
Also see: Lions in the Santa Monica Mountains? by the National Park Service
At one time, Grizzly Bears roamed widely throughout Los Angeles County and Southern California. Hunting, however, decimated the numbers of this magnificent beast. In 1916, the last known Grizzly in was believed to have been shot and killed in Los Angeles County. Grizzlies, whose image appears on California's state flag, are now extinct in California. By 1933, bears of any sort were already extinct in the mountains of Southern California. That year, in an attempt to reintroduce bears to the Los Angeles area, rangers from Yosemite National Park introduced 11 California Black Bears to the San Gabriel Mountains near Crystal Lake. The Black Bear is a smaller and much less aggressive cousin of the Grizzly. Biologists estimate that about 150 to 500 Black Bears now roam Angeles National Forest.
Since 1986, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recorded 99 "bear attacks" statewide (all non-fatal and all by California Black Bears), five of which occurred in Los Angeles County:
|Date||Location||Victim Sex||Victim Age|
|2008 October||Little Jimmy Campground||Male||11|
|2004 Unk||Chilao Campground, Angeles National Forest||Male||Adult|
|2003 July||Angeles National Forest||Male||Adult|
|2001 July||Farm in La Verne||Female||Adult|
|1996 July||Singing Pine Camp, Angeles National Forest||Male & Female||8 & Unknown|
Sadly, in every case, the bear had to be hunted down and destroyed. Attacks on humans, even when due to human carelessness, are believed to make the bear more dangerous.