Getting hit with a paintball is really unpleasant for humans, so Irvine Animal Services officers are hoping that coyotes will find the experience pretty awful as well. Starting last week, they've adopted a policy of shooting paintballs at coyotes in their area who are "too comfortable around humans," says KPCC. The overall goal is to "haze" the coyotes, sending a clear message to the animals that people are not awesome to interact with and that areas where they hang out should be avoided.
Irvine's seen an "abnormal" amount of attacks on people in the last few months (five!), and while most of them resulted in non-deadly injuries like bites or scrapes, people are understandably rattled. (LA's coyotes, by comparison, mostly avoid contact with humans.) These kinds of "concentrated aggression" from coyotes are often the result of the animals getting used to being fed by people, says an Animal Services rep, which means that residents are part of the problem. Animal Services says it's done outreach to "educate residents about how to coexist safely with the wild animals."
This new brand of hazing may sound harsh, but advocates say it's better than the alternative for bold coyotes, which is to trap and euthanize the animal. Though it's just begun to be implemented, the rep for Animal Services assures that the coyotes it's been tried on "did not like it, to say the least." Animal Services notes that regular folks obviously shouldn't shoot paintballs at coyotes because they "may have not been trained in proper hazing methods."