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Laguna Woods OKs shooting of coyotes by professionals

July 29, 2011 |  7:58 am

Photo: Pooh, a Yorkshire terrier, was killed in a coyote attack. Credit: Karen Sherif In the wake of a coyote attack that left a dog dead and its owner injured, the Laguna Woods City Council has voted to allow professionals to shoot the wild animals.

Before Thursday's vote, only a police officer could shoot a gun in the city, and then only in the line of duty.

Now the city manager and police chief have the authority to issue permits to licensed exterminators, veterinarians or other animal-control professionals, allowing them to shoot coyotes.

The move comes after an uptick in coyote attacks in recent months, with several small dogs and cats having been killed.

The wild animals also have become more bold around residents.

On Tuesday, Karen Sherif, 64, was walking her Yorkshire terrier, Pooh, when a coyote snatched the dog and ran off, officials said.

Sherif, who was holding Pooh's leash, was dragged to the ground and suffered several cuts and bruises. The dog was killed.

In May, officials said, a woman was bitten in the hand when she tried to save her dog from a coyote.

Officials have set traps for the animals but have had little luck in dealing with the problem.

The permits will limit the hours and locations that shooting coyotes is allowed, as well as the type of guns that can be used, City Manager Leslie Keane said.

Because the council passed the measure as an "urgency ordinance," the standard 90-day delay in the enactment of city ordinances will be waived, meaning the permits can be issued immediately.

Though coyotes have been a problem in the past for Laguna Woods, the state Department of Fish and Game has often intervened, the Orange County Register reported.

However, Keane said that in this instance the department told her its hands were tied until a coyote attacked a person.

"We are concerned the incidents are going to be increasing," Keane said.

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-- Kate Mather

Photo: Pooh, a Yorkshire terrier, was killed in a coyote attack. Credit: Karen Sherif

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