An increase in the number of coyote incidents in one Orange County community this summer prompted Fish and Wildlife officials to issue a warning Wednesday urging residents to be particularly vigilant in watching their children and pets when outdoors.
In the past six weeks, there have been four incidents in Irvine where young children were either bitten or scratched by a coyote, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In each case, the contact resulted in only minor injuries.
The first case this season occurred over the Memorial Day weekend in Silverado Park, said department spokeswoman Janice Mackey.
A 2-year-old girl was walking with her parents near the intersection of Equinox and Silverado when she was bitten on the back of the neck, according to the Irvine Police Department.
A second attack occurred on June 6 near a playground in the 200 block of Borrego Street and involved another 2-year-old who was bitten on the knee and suffered leg bruising, Mackey said.
Two incidents involving children have also been reported so far in July.
The first involved a small child who was bitten several times on Denim Avenue, according to Mackey.
The second child was a 7-year-old who was scratched by coyote that entered the family's home through an open garage door on Keepsake Street.
"These incidents highlight the importance of communities working together to eliminate sources of food that may attract wildlife to neighborhoods," said Capt. Rebecca Hartman, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife's Law Enforcement Division. "When coyotes are fed, either intentionally or unintentionally by food being left out, they can become a public safety threat."
Trappers were deployed to locate and humanely euthanize coyotes in the area where the incidents occurred, said Mackey.
For additional safety tips on living in area prone to increased interaction with wildlife, visit www.keepmewild.com.