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January 27, 2009

Coalition Calls on Huntington to End Cruel Coyote Snaring Program

Employee Fired after Freeing Snared Coyote

The Humane Society of the United States

LARKSPUR, Calif. — A national coalition of wildlife advocacy organizations has called on the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, Calif. to cease its "Coyote Abatement Program" that involves killing coyotes caught in wire neck snares. Project Coyote, the Animal Welfare Institute and The Humane Society of the United States sent a detailed seven-page letter to The Huntington, outlining concerns that the program "has sorely neglected animal welfare as well as visitor safety concerns" and "embodies a poorly justified and ambiguous set of concerns over coyotes and the need for their removal."

The 207-acre nonprofit research and educational center hires a private trapper to neck snare and kill coyotes at least twice a year in the spring and fall. The snaring program was brought to the attention of animal advocacy organizations by a former Huntington security guard, who attempted to free one of the neck-snared coyotes and was subsequently fired. The employee took photos and video of the neck-snared coyote and posted a video clip online, which can be viewed here.

"That an employee of The Huntington lost his job because he tried to alleviate the suffering of an individual animal from a neck snare speaks volumes about The Huntington's total disregard for animal and human welfare," said Camilla Fox, founding director of Project Coyote and wildlife consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute. "Aside from the cruelty of neck snares, indiscriminate lethal control efforts designed to reduce coyote populations are simply an unsound and most often ineffective management practice in reducing real or perceived conflicts."

"It is rather ironic that The Huntington is using a primitive, highly non-selective trap to ostensibly protect public safety when such a device poses a serious hazard to both non-target animals and people," said Sean Guinan, urban wildlife program coordinator for The Humane Society of the United States. "It is never appropriate to use cruel and non-selective snares when humane and effective alternatives exist."

The Huntington's website itself states, "We know of no instances in which coyotes, primarily nocturnal, have acted aggressively toward Huntington visitors or staff. However, as a safety precaution we have found it necessary to engage a private animal control firm in a regular program to have them removed from the property."

Issues regarding how often the snares are checked surfaced when Huntington personnel reported that a dead coyote caught in a snare was left lying on the property for weeks.

The three organizations offered to assist The Huntington with the development of a humane, innovative and proactive coyote coexistence plan and provided studies, templates and information used in other communities, but the Huntington declined the offer. 

The organizations are encouraging their members and area residents to express their concerns about the program to The Huntington management. More information can be found at ProjectCoyote.org, humanesociety.org and awionline.org.

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Project Coyote is a national non-profit fiscally sponsored project of Earth Island Institute that fosters innovative solutions to help people and coyotes coexist. On the web at ProjectCoyote.org.

For over 58 years, the Animal Welfare Institute has been the leading voice for animals across the country and on Capitol Hill. Please join us in our ongoing campaigns to reduce the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. Sign up for AWI eAlerts to receive the latest news on what you can do to help us protect all animals: awionline.org/joinus.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

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