SoCal Toddler's Coyote Attack 3rd in 5 Days

Spate of animals making bold attacks on children, including girl at public park.

LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. - May 8, 2008 — -- Melissa Rowley left her children playing in the front yard for only a moment to step into her house.

When she came back a coyote was dragging her daughter away.

It was the third time in five days a coyote had posed a threat to a small child in Southern California, San Bernardino Sheriff's spokeswoman Arden Wiltshire said.

The coyote grabbed the 2-year-old by the head and tried to drag her towards the street in the mountain community of Lake Arrowhead on Tuesday.

When Rowley came out of the house and ran toward her daughter, the animal released the girl and ran away.

Rowley took her daughter to a hospital where the toddler was treated for several puncture wounds to the head and neck area, and a laceration on her mouth.

She was then flown to Loma Linda University Hospital for further treatment, although her injuries were not life-threatening. She was released from the hospital Wednesday afternoon and is expected to fully recover.

State Fish and Game wardens and county animal control officers set traps for the coyote and were monitoring the neighborhood high in the San Bernardino Mountains about 65 miles miles northeast of Los Angeles.

A neighbor, Dottie Edwards, described a "scruffy-looking" coyote who had been hanging around the neighborhood for several weeks to KNBC-TV.

"In the past they've been frightened of humans and if you shooed them, they'd go away, but they're not doing that," Edwards said. "I feel responsible, because I didn't call Animal Control and I should have. We all should have because he was like, stalking us."

On Friday, a nanny pulled another 2-year-old girl from the jaws of a coyote at Alterra Park in Chino Hills, a San Bernardino County community about 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The girl suffered puncture wounds to her buttocks and was treated at a hospital.

A coyote came after another toddler in the same park Sunday. The child's father kicked and chased the coyote away.

Alterra Park is near Chino Hills State Park, a natural open space of thousands of acres spanning nearly 31 miles.

The park was temporarily closed by Fish and Game officials so trappers could locate the animal.

Trappers caught and killed three animals in Chino Hills Tuesday night, one of which they believe is the coyote who bit the child, said Fish and Game spokesman Harry Morse.

The animal that attacked the baby in the sandbox was described as limping on its left leg, and one of the animals trapped had a broken left leg, he said.

Morse said biologists can't explain the rash of coyote incidents.

The animals are lured into neighborhoods by dog or cat food left outdoors, food that people leave out for wild animals and scraps in garbage cans, he said.

"People get used to seeing them, but this is a wild animal and you do not want a wild animal in your backyard," Morse said.

"When coyotes get habitualized to being around people and lose that fear of humans, that's when it's very tenuous."