Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
A Los Angeles blog
from Echo Park

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Coyote diary

It's an awful job, and no one has to do it: The LA Times ran a weird story two days ago about a man, Jimmie Rizzo, who kills coyotes for a living (pun intended). The story has inspired more postings more quickly on the neighborhood list than any I have seen on any subject. The community is upset because in the story they read an LA Times endorsement of Rizzo's activities. And perhaps they're right -- the tone of the story is hard to pin down: the language and presentation are that of a sunny feature profile, a day in the life of a guy whose grandma taught him to kill muskrats; he graduated to a life of driving around with guns, chains and sodium pentothal -- all in protection of lapdogs (whose owners should be protecting their pets by other means). The reporter, Joe Mozingo, tags along with Rizzo -- who often acts as an agent for the county -- as he goes about his killing, and the horror and ugliness of what he reports is at odds with the featurey delivery of the story.

It's off-putting. But I'm glad the story was published because I wasn't aware -- hadn't given it any thought -- that my taxes were being used to pay for such an awful and unnecessary "service." Nor had I known that the Huntington Library and Gardens pays Rizzo to kill coyotes. Something out of balance in that detail, or is there? If I hadn't already let our family membership lapse two years ago, I'd be canceling it now. Regardless, coyote haters will enjoy the Times story. People who support a sane approach to co-existence with urban/suburban wildlife can do better. Sometimes it's good to be upset.

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