Patrick Healy, Sean Browning and Kevin Dahlgren
A private contractor can now be hired in Laguna Woods to shoot coyotes in response to a series of recent attacks.
The coyote problem has become so ugly in Laguna Woods that city officials said they want to allow animal control specialists to shoot the animals.
The City Council unanimously approved the proposal, which requires a change to its firearms ordinance, at a special meeting Thursday afternoon.
"We've tried everything we can think of to deal with this situation, and we're at the time where we have to modify the law,'' Mayor Bert Hack said.
The modification authorizes animal control specialists to discharge weapons in city limits. The city would issue permits to the specialists.
The list of specialists mentioned in the ordinance includes pest control companies, exterminators, veterinarians or "similar animal control professionals."
The plan leaves it up to the city manager and police chief to determine whether the permit applicant has proper training. Officials also can limit the hours and locations in which the applicant is permitted to discharge the weapon.
City leaders asked for help from state Fish and Game officials, but they were told they could not get involved unless a coyote directly attacked a person, City Manager Leslie Keane said.
The city contracted with Laguna Beach for animal control services, but that doesn't include shooting the coyotes.
Authorities said coyote attacks have been an ongoing problem in Laguna Woods. On Tuesday, a woman said she was dragged by her leash when she tried to protect her Yorkshire terrier from coyotes. The dog was killed. The woman suffered minor injuries.
Two more coyote attacks were reported Wednesday.