DNA from a coyote that bit a girl on Huntington Beach last week matches samples from one of two coyotes shot and killed following the attack, authorities said Monday.
The 2-year-old girl was hospitalized with bites to her head and face following the attack Thursday night near Huntington Beach Pier. Her injuries were not considered life threatening.
Video showed the coyote running toward the girl before leaping and knocking her to the sand. The attack was just a few feet from adults who had their backs turned.
Huntington Beach police responded and shot two coyotes, police Lt. Shawn Randell said.
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Samples taken from the girl's wounds were used to confirm that the animal that bit her had been killed, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy said.
The family did nothing to antagonize the coyote, authorities said. The coyote paced around the area before running off.
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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."
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.