A coyote attacked and seriously injured a girl on Southern California's famed Huntington Beach Thursday night, police said.
The young girl, who might have been bitten in the face, was hospitalized, but her injuries are not considered life threatening.
Officers were called at about 10 p.m. Thursday to the beach near the Huntington Beach Pier after reports of a coyote attack.
The girl was with two women and another small child sitting near the waves when she wandered “a mere few feet" and was attacked, state Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy said.
Video from a Surfline.com surveillance camera captured the attack, which shows the coyote running to the girl and knocking her onto the sand. The coyote appears to pounce on top of the girl for several seconds before her cry alerted adults nearby and the animal ran off.
A coyote was later found dead on the beach about a mile north of the pier Friday morning while another coyote was spotted Friday afternoon under a trailer and was euthanized, Foy said.
Officials will check the animals for rabies and will try to determine if their DNA matches to the attack, he said.
“The carcass will be sent to a laboratory in Sacramento where wildlife forensics scientists will work on it Saturday and attempt to compare the samples of DNA from either of the carcasses to that of the samples taken from the victim’s bite wounds,” police said in a news release.
Runners at the beach early Friday said coyote sightings there are common.
"We see them every single time," said Eric Brown, who runs at the beach several times per week. "Usually, they chase us. I've never seen more than one chase us at a time. Your initial thought is they're playing, but I do carry a very bright flashlight and pepper spray."
Coyote sightings can be reported to 714-960-8811.
Coyotes are found almost everywhere in California, including cities, and authorities have long warned that small children and pets can be at risk. They are highly adaptable animals that have learned to live comfortably in many environments, including around humans. Wildlife experts say we've played a role in part by leaving food and garbage out for an attractive meal.
Coyotes are usually shy and try to avoid humans. They primarily hunt rodents, and help keep that population under control, but will not ignore an easy snack.
Here's list of coyote precautions from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
- Never feed or attempt to tame coyotes. The result may be deadly conflicts with pets or livestock, or serious injuries to small children.
- Do not leave small children or pets outside unattended.
- Install motion-sensitive lighting around the house.
- Trim ground-level shrubbery to reduce hiding places.
- Be aware that coyotes are more active in the spring, when feeding and protecting their young.
- If followed by a coyote, make loud noises. If this fails, throw rocks in the animal’s direction.
- If a coyote attacks a person, immediately contact the nearest Department of Fish and Wildlife or law enforcement office.
- Put garbage in tightly closed containers that cannot be tipped over.
- Remove sources of water, especially in dry climates.
- Bring pets in at night, and do not leave pet food outside.
- Avoid using bird feeders as they attract rodents and other coyote prey.
- Provide secure enclosures for rabbits, poultry and other livestock.
- Pick up fallen fruit and cover compost piles.
- Ask your neighbors to follow these tips.