The town of Irvine, California, has been the scene of four coyote attacks on children in just the past month. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported the four attacks this week in an effort to warn residents to be more vigilant about the wily canines, especially with regard to small children.
ABC News reported July 10 that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife issued the warning following the latest coyote attack on July 5. In that particular incident, a coyote viciously attacked a 2-year-old child, resulting in injuries to the child’s neck and face.
Lt. Kent Smirl of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told KABC in Los Angeles, “It was a child, about approximately 2 years old, was in the garage. They opened the garage up and the coyote came in and actually got the child on the neck area and part of the cheek.”
In all four of the coyote attacks, the children received minor injuries. Given the unprecedented number of incidents, officials are worried that the aggressiveness shown by the coyotes of late could pose an even greater danger. Hence the warning.
Coyote attacks are rarely deadly. However, they can be. Back in 1981, California recorded its only coyote-caused fatality when a 3-year-old girl was killed.
They’re also advising that not only should families keep on the lookout for the safety of their children but their small pets as well, as coyotes have been known to attack and kill smaller animals in the past. (The town of Seal Beach approved a proposal to trap coyotes in September after a spate of animal attacks in their area.) Small pets should be kept inside especially around dawn and dusk, the times of day when coyotes are more active. And keeping pet food and water bowls inside is strongly recommended.
Fish and Wildlife officials are also advising that if someone is approached by a coyote, they should immediately make noise, pick up any small children or pets, and never turn their back to the animal.
The coyote problems in Irvine and Seal Beach, California, may just be the tip of the iceberg, however. A recent report in The Week indicates that coyotes are becoming more and more prevalent in large cities like Chicago, New York, Washington (D.C.), and Atlanta. Their nuisance is particularly felt in the Northeast as they roam in packs within the city limits and inside parks. To gauge how much of a problem coyotes might be in the region, Pennsylvania trappers and hunters killed some 20,000 of them in 2005. More worrisome, some of the eastern coyotes are somewhat larger than the average coyote, having been hybridized by breeding with their bigger cousins, wolves.