Coyote attacks spur firearm code change in OC town


The warnings are up and residents are taking precautions while out for their daily walks. Some are saying the coyotes are losing their fear of humans.

Tuesday morning, Karen Sherif was walking her Yorkshire Terrier Pooh when a coyote grabbed the dog. Sherif held on to the leash and fell to the ground. Eventually she let go, and the coyote killed her dog.

Lorraine Barr's Yorkshire Terrier was also killed on Saturday. The attack happened during an evening walk. She said it's the toughest thing she's experienced in 60 years.

The recent attacks have put many in the Laguna Woods Retirement Community on edge.

"A lot of people think it's not a problem," said Laguna Woods resident Linda Malone. "But it is a problem, people have lost their dogs. They just think it's over blown and it's not."

Malone says she will do whatever it takes to protect her Chihuahua named Carnegie. For his protection she packs a metal baton, knife, and whistle.

"I am not going to have my dog mauled, disemboweled, caused to suffer," said Malone.

City officials said that they have tried various methods to deal with the coyote problem, even trying to call in California Department of Fish and Game. But because a human wasn't attacked they couldn't get their assistance.

The Laguna Woods City Council took action. During a special meeting, the city's firearm ordinance was repealed. Under the old code, only on-duty police officers were allowed to fire a weapon.

The new ordinance will now give the city manager and chief of police the authority to issue firearms permits to wildlife management companies.

"The coyote situation in Laguna Woods has escalated rapidly during the last six months," said Laguna Woods City Manager Leslie Keane. "I want our residents to know that we haven't been sitting by. We have had box traps, we have had snares, we have hired professional trappers."

Last month animal control officers have captured and euthanized three coyotes, but they said a male, a female and two cubs are likely still in the area.

Even so, some residents and animal activists disagree with the use of firearms to hunt and shoot the animals.

"What they could do, instead of killing them, is knocking them out," said Laguna Woods resident Don Angle. "Just take them to a different place."

The urgency ordinance was passed by a unanimous vote and will take place immediately. But there will be restrictions since it is a permitting issue, including the hours, the validation process, and the weapons that are allowed to be used on the coyotes.

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