LOS CERRITOS (CBSLA.com) — Wildlife activists and local Native Americans were expected Wednesday to be on hand for a meeting to call for end to the practice of coyote trapping in Seal Beach.

Protesters were expected to rally outside the Los Cerritos Wetlands Authority (LCWA) meeting in Long Beach to call on officials to help protect the coyote, which is held in high regard by the Santa Catalina Island chain of Native tribes including the Chumash, Gabrieleno, Ahlone, and others.

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Last October, Seal Beach hired a pest-control company to catch coyotes in live traps and transfer them into mobile chambers filled with carbon dioxide, a move that was met with opposition from animal rights activists and other groups.

Now members of the local Native American community are calling the trapping and killing of their sacred animal “a slap in the face”, according to Union Members for the Preservation of Wildlife’s Randal Massaro.

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Coyote sightings in the area have been on the rise in recent years and some residents have complained attacks on small animals have become bolder.

But Massaro and other advocacy groups argue that the effort to trap coyotes is “wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars” and could be construed as “outright cruelty to animals.”

Coyotes help to keep down the local rodent population, which in turn prevents rabies, Typhus fever, plague and other viruses from emerging, Massaro said.

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The LCWA meeting will be held at the Long Beach Yacht Club at 3 p.m. in Long Beach.