Police shot two coyotes after a 2-year-old child was bitten near Huntington Beach Pier Thursday night.
A family with children was out by the pier around 9:45 p.m. when the small girl was attacked, Capt. Patrick Foy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife told KTLA.
“They had done nothing to provoke or inadvertently initiate some kind of attack by this coyote, but in fact, the coyote did go up and attack their little girl,” Foy said.
The animal bit the child and knocked her down, inflicting injuries that were described as being not life-threatening.
“It was enough to to terrorize that poor little girl and, thankfully, the family was there because it would not have ended well and the nature of the injuries were enough to get the little girl to the hospital,” Foy said.
The girl cried out when she was attacked, and her family quickly turned around and responded, prompting the coyote to run off, Foy said.
The family called 911 and Huntington Beach police officers rushed to the scene, where they found two coyotes in the immediate vicinity and shot them both.
Video from the scene showed police cruisers on the sand, chasing what appeared to be a coyote that was running away.
Both coyotes ran off after being shot, and just one had been recovered as of Friday morning, officials said.
Fish and Wildlife officers are still looking for the other coyote.
“If it is still alive, it should be considered dangerous because it is wounded,” Foy said. “People should not approach it but should call 911.”
A wildlife officer responded to the hospital where the girl was taken and used a forensics evidence collection kit and took a swab of the bite to get DNA from the animal that attacked her.
That is used to confirm which coyote bit her.
As with all coyote attacks, Foy said there are rabies concerns following Thursday night’s incident, but explained that wildlife officials don’t have any evidence to suggest the coyote that bit the girl had rabies.
Foy said coyote attacks are not uncommon in California.
“They do tend to go after the smallest of the group and those are the really young ones,” Foy said. “In fact, that happened last night. So the whole family was standing there and it went after the little 2-year-old old girl.”
Foy said coyotes tend to be very quiet when they’re about to attack.
“They’re quick and pretty silent. So there’s really nothing that family could have done to prevent that from happening,” Foy said.
He added that in his 25 years with the department, he’s never heard of a coyote attack happening on a beach.
“Not only at a the beach, but the Huntington Beach Pier. That’s got to be one of the most crowded beaches in the entire coast of California,” Foy said. “So that is a pretty uncommon situation. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”