IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Animal Control officers in Irvine are armed with paintball guns Friday and patrolling to discourage coyotes from entering residential neighborhoods.
CBS2’s Stacey Butler said the brazen coyotes are showing up more and more and says several people have recently been attacked.
In the area of Pavillion Park, in fact, some residents told her they are scared to go out when the sun goes down.
“It concerns me that I have to walk around with a bat to walk my dog at night,” said Mark Ruiz.
At night, of course, more coyotes come out of hiding.
“I have two little kids, and I really don’t take them out after dark,” Ruiz said.
Irvine Animal Control officers said last week a coyote followed a resident to some nearby mailboxes and bit him on the leg.
It was the fifth reported attack on a resident in the last four months.
“We have decided to take it to the next level,” said Lt. John Condon of Irvine Animal Control.
Desperate for any way to keep the coyotes at bay, officers are now working with Fish and Wildlife officials to haze the animals.
“This is what we would use to do high intensity hazing,” said an officer.
Officers believe the increased attacks mean the coyotes are becoming less fearful of humans.
“So even though somebody might yell or scream at the coyotes, they seem to be becoming a little more comfortable, this just raises the level of agitation to get them on their way,” Condon said, “and let them know this is not the place that we want them.”
He said that four officers shot the water-based paintballs at two coyotes in the park last night.
The animals were not injured.The hope is to scare them enough to stay away.
Residents are hoping this plan works.
“If they aren’t afraid of us,” said resident Julie Freedman, “how are we going to get rid of them? And what’s to stop them from going after pets.”
It is illegal for residents to use paintballs on the coyotes themselves, Butler reports.
Officer will be back this weekend for more hazing of the animals, she said.