Popular Old Town pet rabbit killed

Some people believe a rabbit’s foot can bring good luck. However, they are not necessarily lucky for the rabbit, as this cautionary tale will tell.

Jack the rabbit lived in Old Town Seal Beach. His home was next to a tree, inside a little pen made up of metal baby-gate fence. Inside the pen was a little blue house where Jack lived. It looked somewhat like his owners’ the Tellkamp family’s blue home near Seal Beach City Hall that towered above the little blue house where Jack lived.

Jack was a favorite pet of the Tellkamp family and also of the many children who dwelled nearby in the surrounding neighborhood. In fact, it was common for Jack to sometimes be missing from his pen, as some of the children would take Jack home to spend the night—with their parents’ permission of course.

So it was that Jane Tellkamp noticed one morning about a week and a half ago that Jack was not in his pen. He was not in his little blue house either.

She wondered, where could Jack be?

“I figured he had just been taken overnight by one of the neighbors,” Jane said.

When Jack did not return the next day, Jane began to worry. Then she got some bad news.

One of Jane’s neighbor friends found what was left of Jack’s body that had been torn apart. Apparently he had been the victim of a coyote attack.

“She snipped Jack’s feet off of and brought them to me,” Jane said. “It’s really sad and not just for us, but for the neighborhood too.”

There has been an apparent recent spike in coyote attacks on pets in the neighborhood of Rossmoor a few miles inland from Old Town Seal Beach.

The Sun Newspaper has reported on the concerns of Rossmoor pet owners, but the killing of Jack is the first time the paper has recently heard of an apparent coyote attack in the more urban area near downtown Seal Beach.

However, coyote attacks on pets have been reported in other parts of the seaside city.

Charles and Harriett Cohen of Seal Beach’s College Park West neighborhood reported their two 4-year-old daschunds were attacked in their backyard in April. Although the dogs survived the injuries they sustained in the attacks, the dogs remained skittish of spending time in the Cohen’s backyard after the attacks.

The city of Seal Beach, as well as the Rossmoor Homeowners Association, has been stepping up their public education efforts to help people who have pets and young children to beware of the local coyote population. The danger, according to local animal control, lies mostly with coyotes near residential areas that have lost their fear of humans.

According to John Keisler, Bureau Manager for the city of Long Beach Animal Care Services, “Coyotes present a very real threat to small pets and should not be tolerated if they become dependent on people for food, water and shelter.”

Keisler said that a coyote captured recently in Long Beach had been fed by a resident and thereby lost its fear of humans.

Rossmoor residents have been warned to watch out for small children as well as their pets, however, Keisler said, “It is important to note that while we investigated (519) formal domestic dog and cat bites of people last year alone, we have never had a report of a coyote biting a person on record.”

While that may be true locally so far, according to the Web site varmintal.com/attach.htm, coyote attacks on humans are not as uncommon as some might think.

The site reported that in October of 2009, Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old Toronto singer whose debut album was released in March, died in a Nova Scotia hospital after being mauled by coyotes in a Cape Breton park.

She had been hiking on the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park when two coyotes attacked her. The site contains numerous other reports of coyote attacks on humans.

Coyote seen killing cat

According to Rossmoor resident Christa Chavez, at about 6:15 a.m. on Sunday, June 13, two members of the Rossmoor Predator Management Team were driving through Rossmoor when they spotted a coyote with a cat in its mouth, one-and-a-half blocks from Weaver Elementary School.

“They honked their horn in an attempt to startle the coyote so it might drop the cat. The coyote turned, looked at them, and then began to run” Chavez said. “It dropped its kill on Argyle and Oak Knoll. The coyote then ran towards Kempton and Martha Ann.”

When the coyote seemed to realize it could not hide, with one bound, it jumped over a six-foot chain-link fence into the storm drain. The coyote then headed towards the 605 Freeway.

Chavez has been active over the past couple of months trying to warn neighbors of the coyote threat to pets.

She has become involved with the Rossmoor Predator Management Team that strongly advises the following safety precautions:

1. Never leave your pet alone outdoors, day or night (one Rossmoor dog was killed in the afternoon, May 27).

2. Coyotes have been known to attack children.  Never leave them unsupervised outdoors.

3. Make your home less tempting for coyotes by removing all outdoor pet food and by covering your trash. Pick up fruit that has fallen from trees.

4. Install outside motion lights on your property.

5. Be aware that the local coyotes are becoming more brazen. If you see one, distance yourself immediately. Call 911 if you feel threatened.

6. Keep some sort of defensive item (such as a large shovel or a bucket of rocks) outside in the event a coyote enters your yard.

7. Warn your neighbors, especially those with pets and/or small children.

We do not want to panic people, but we do want them to be well informed and prepared.

8. Report all sightings, injuries and killings by coyotes to: Rossmoor Community Services District, (562) 430-3707.

For more information about the Rossmoor Predator Management Team, contact rha@rossmoor-rha.org.

Another resource on preventing coyote attacks on pet is the Web site: http://www.longbeach.gov/acs/urban_wildlife/default.asp.