Fountain Valley adopts a plan, with color-coded threat level, for dealing with coyotes

Fountain Valley now has a road map for dealing with coyotes.

The Coyote Management Plan acknowledges that the animals are California natives that have long roamed the area and are an important part of the natural balance, but that they are also clever and adaptable and can cause problems in the human world.

The plan emphasizes coexistence with urban coyotes and offers practical tips for preventing the animals from becoming problems. A chart with color-coded threat levels shows that authorities will kill a problem coyote as a last resort.

The City Council passed the plan Tuesday with no discussion.

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman said in an interview that the agency has received no coyote reports from Fountain Valley “in recent memory.”

The city will educate the public through social media, the city newsletter and presentations with local volunteer groups.

The color-coded response has four tiers:

Green: A coyote is seen or heard in the area. Respond with education.

Yellow: A coyote appears to frequently associate with humans or their food sources and shows little wariness of people. Respond with education and investigate what is attracting the animal to the area.

Orange: A coyote is involved in the death of a domestic animal. Several pet attacks in the same general area may indicate the presence of a habituated coyote. Respond with education and public awareness of the incident, and contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Red: A coyote is involved in a documented provoked or unprovoked attack or close encounter with humans. City staff will work with the state wildlife agency to kill the animal after a through investigation.

A staff report prepared for the council said that relocating coyotes rarely works — the territorial animals don’t often stay in their new locations and will try to disperse or return home. Generally, they do not survive the transfer, and often transfers are illegal.

As predators, coyotes typically eat rodents but may also target cats, pet rabbits and small dogs. They can be drawn to trash and human food scraps as well as windfall fruits, which attract their prey to yards. In urban settings, coyotes can make homes in parks, golf courses and other patches of open space, and under sheds, decks and crawl spaces. But they will generally still be wary of humans.

Tips include controlling trash, compost bins and fruit trees, never feeding wildlife — which is against the law — and keeping small pets inside or under close supervision while outdoors.

Elsewhere in coastal Orange County, Huntington Beach drew up a similar color-coded response plan in 2015 after a rash of pet attacks, although anxiety continued. In 2014, Seal Beach canceled its controversial contract with a company that asphyxiated coyotes in mobile gas chambers. Last year, Laguna Beach voted to continue its trapping program for at least another year.

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