Irvine Residents Wary After Coyote Attacks Girl

Kristy Miller has a new accessary on her arm along with her 5-year-old dog.

"Pepper spray. I use it when I run," she says.

Miller plans to use it after coming face to face with a coyote early Friday morning while walking her dog.

"It started circling us and was kind of being very aggressive," she said. "I kicked and yelled."

A neighbor helped scare it away. The coyote took off, but that wasn't the case Friday night. About 6 p.m., a 3-year-old girl playing in Silverado Park was bitten by a coyote. She was back home Saturday night after reportedly suffering minor cuts on her neck.

Nearby residents say coyote sightings are common, but recently they've seen a change in behavior.

"I think they're starving and getting aggressive," said Irvine resident Marie Leusher.

Jessy Smith had a coyote encounter 2 1/2 weeks ago.

"I threw my hands in air and I yelled and I stomped my feet, and he wasn't really backing off. It was really unusual," Smith said.

She's grateful her 7-month-old baby girl was not with her. Signs are now posted in the park, warning residents about the recent coyote attack.

"You have an animal that's in an area like this and shows no fear of humans, there should be a concern," said Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Kent Smirl.

A joint effort between the Fish and Wildlife along with Animal Control was underway, serving as a reminder for residents to keep pets indoors and remove food sources that could entice coyotes.

"When they smell the food trucks, when they smell the trash, when they smell barbecues, they know this is where the food is," Leusher said.

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