California residents are being warned to be more vigilant about coyotes after four attacks on children in the past month in the Irvine area.
The most recent incident — this past Sunday — involved a 2-year-old child.
“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,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife Lt. Kent Smirl told ABC’s Los Angeles station KABC.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported four incidents involving coyotes and young children in the past month in Irvine, where the children have either been bitten or scratched by a coyote. All four had minor injuries from the attacks.
“These incidents highlight the importance of communities working together to eliminate sources of food that may attract wildlife to neighborhoods,” Capt. Rebecca Hartman said. “When coyotes are fed, either intentionally or unintentionally by food being left out, they can become a public safety threat.”
Trappers have recently humanely euthanized five coyotes in the area and one was linked back to an attack through its DNA, KABC reported.
Officials are concerned that coyotes are losing their natural fear of humans because they’re now associating humans with food.
If a coyote approaches and looks aggressive, pick up small children and pets and throw rocks to deter the animal, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said.
The only reported coyote-caused fatality in the state, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, occurred in 1981 when a 3-year-old girl was killed.