Who is in charge of wild animals in Los Angeles? It’s not an easy question to answer. Different laws and regulations and different agencies, from the municipality to the city to the state to the federal government, determine who deals with a cat, a dog, a possum, a rat, or a mountain lion.
A brief exchange with a city employee reveals that LA residents don’t want to be educated about wild animals, they want someone to DO something about them: move them, kill them, trap them, relocate them. Maybe this is “ignorance” in need of enlightment—that’s the first impulse that government agencies seem to have. But there is more going on here. It is also about a frustration over responsibility and governance: a confusion about who is in charge of what in a city. A lot of Angelenos, like many people in many cities, are so lucky to have the freedom to do whatever they want in our homes and neighbors that they forget how it came to be that way, and have little idea how to engage with it. Everyday experiences of government are part of democracy, but in the case of wild animals it can all seem so arbitrary sometimes.