Fountain Valley aims to reduce coyote encounters with ban on feeding wildlife

Fountain Valley has passed a ban on feeding wildlife on city property, aiming to reduce coyote encounters.
Fountain Valley has passed a ban on feeding wildlife on city property, aiming to reduce coyote encounters. A coyote is seen here at Fairview Park in Costa Mesa in March 2021.
(Raul Roa)

In response to a coyote attack that happened in Mile Square Park in the summer, Fountain Valley has updated its municipal code to include an ordinance that prohibits certain interactions with wildlife on public property.

The Fountain Valley City Council unanimously approved the ordinance, geared toward reducing the presence of coyotes, with a second reading at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The ban states that unless specifically authorized by the director of community services in writing, no person shall feed, disturb or have physical contact with wildlife on city property,” Colin Burns, an attorney for the city, said in introducing the ordinance at a City Council meeting on Sept. 20. “It is in line with our coyote management plan, and it is meant to reduce the possibility of human contact with urbanized coyotes.”

A coyote attack on a 2-year-old child was reported in the county-operated portion of Mile Square Park in June. The animal was subsequently caught and euthanized.

“Under the coyote management plan, the act of feeding wildlife is known to lead to an increase in wildlife activity, so it attracts more wildlife,” Burns said. “That attracts coyotes. That leads to an increased possibility of human-coyote interaction.”

Mayor Patrick Harper said the ordinance gives the city the capability to administer citations, if necessary, but public education will be the focus.

“If people leave food out or feed the coyotes, they become less scared,” Harper said in a phone interview Thursday. “We want them to sort of keep to themselves, so if we sort of encourage them to interact with humans [by providing them with food], that’s where the danger can be.”

The presence of coyotes has also been felt elsewhere locally, including in Huntington Beach, where a Chino Hills mother announced plans to pursue legal action against the city after her 2-year-old daughter was bitten by a coyote in April.

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