The Costa Mesa Police Department has stepped up investigative efforts in and around the city’s College Park neighborhood following reports of increased coyote activity.
Despite some public claims to the contrary, officers have found no evidence of a den in the area, officials said this week.
“Based on our observations, we believe an adult and two teenage coyotes have habituated the area,” Police Chief Rob Sharpnack said in a statement. “In response, we have conferred with [state] Fish and Wildlife and placed traps in the neighborhood.”
The traps — which are designed to snare animals without harming them — “have been out for a few weeks and are checked multiple times per day by animal control,” Sharpnack said. “Thus far, we have yet to trap a coyote.”
The department also has placed traps in the area around the Costa Mesa Civic Center on Fair Drive, but no dens have been found there either.
According to the city, the department has employed traps to help monitor the area but any coyotes that are trapped must be euthanized because it is against the law to relocate them.
According to Coyote Cacher — an online system that tracks reports of coyote activity — there have been roughly a dozen sightings of the wild canines in and around College Park and the Civic Center in the past 30 days.
While most of the encounters seem benign, some residents reported that the coyotes did not seem afraid of humans, and one person reported that a coyote had killed a neighbor’s cat.
“I’m thinking something really bad could happen if somebody doesn’t get on it,” College Park resident Bruce McClary said Thursday. “We’ve already lost cats and dogs.”
McClary, who has lived in the neighborhood for 24 years, said coyote sightings aren’t necessarily new, but “it seems to be really bad right now.”
“They’re predators; they shouldn’t be here,” he said. “I’m afraid something bad is going to happen, like a small kid getting bitten.”
Several residents in the neighborhood have turned out to City Council meetings in recent weeks to urge the city to take additional action to curtail coyotes in the area.
Such concerns are nothing new in Costa Mesa. Residents over the years have complained that the animals can be aggressive and sometimes attack or kill their pets.
Officials unveiled a city coyote management plan last year that emphasized the importance of removing things that can attract coyotes, such as food or water sources, and cutting down overgrown plants that can provide cover. It also outlined strategies for “hazing” — scaring the animals away by yelling or making loud noises.
Residents are urged to report any sightings to Coyote Cacher at ucanr.edu/sites/CoyoteCacher, or to call the city’s hotline at (714) 754-4899.