Monday, July 29, 2013
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Article from OC Register:
CYPRESS – A 2-year-old girl is recovering at home after she was bitten
and dragged by a coyote in broad daylight, 10 feet from her mother at
Forest Lawn Memorial Park on Thursday. Experts say it was the first coyote attack on a person in Orange County reported this year – and a rare occurrence statewide. Klarissa Barrera, of Long Beach, was treated for rabies and a 2.5-inch gash on her right calf at Long Beach Memorial Hospital, her mother,
Michelle Luper said Monday. "I just wanted to put some space between me and the coyote because it was just standing there and staring at me," Luper said of the moment after she saved her daughter.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Janice Mackey confirmed that an animal matching the description of a coyote was reported to have bitten a young girl. She said department employees shot and killed three coyotes at Forest Lawn Thursday to address what's considered a threat to public safety.
"We were sent over to the scene, interviewed the parties and found three coyotes in the area," Mackey said.
"We believe we have the right coyotes."
Luper, her three children and her ex-husband were at Forest Lawn Memorial Park about 3:15 p.m. Thursday to visit Luper's grandmother's grave.Her 3-year old, Kira, and Klarissa were playing 10 feet away as Luper was cleaning the gravestone when she heard Kira say "Ooh, a doggy!" Luper said she recognized that it was coyote from sightings in the area, including other times in Forest Lawn, and called for her girls to run to her.
The coyote bit Klarissa on the back as she turned around, puncturing her back and buttock, then dragged the girl by the leg toward the bushes, she said. "I guess it was the emotion of fear and the pain I saw in my baby's face, I let out this scream and I lunged for her," said Luper, 32. The coyote dropped the girl and growled at Luper, who recovered her child, while her ex-husband, Keith Luper, called 911, she said.
Ben Sussman, a spokesman for Forest Lawn Memorial Park, said he didn't know if coyotes are commonly
sighted at Forest Lawn."We deeply regret that the incident occurred," he said. "We will absolutely be making sure our parks are compliant with everything, making sure everything is safe for our visitors."
Orange County Animal Control Director Ryan Drabek said an attack directed at a human is "very, very rare."
He said a couple of people have been injured in Orange County while protecting their pets from coyotes,
including one incident last year. "As far as an incident like this, it's been quite some time," Drabek said.
A coyote charged at Nick Falangas in front of his Irvine townhome last year. His 1-year-old son had been crying inside the house, said Falangas at the time, though he and his son were unhurt.
University of California coyote researcher Robert Timm said this was the second attack on a human in
California this year, following a hunter in full camouflage who was bitten in Nevada County after calling for
turkeys in April. Luper said her cat was killed by a coyote two weeks ago in the College Estates neighborhood of Long Beach,just across the San Gabriel River from Orange County.
"My neighbor found her head and arm on his lawn," she said. Bite victims receive precautionary rabies shots, and Luper said her daughter will be back to Long Beach Memorial for two more to go with the ones she's received. But Klarissa is doing well despite a lingering fear of the dogs that live in the house, her mother said. "She's actually in really good spirits," Luper said. "She started walking on her leg again yesterday."
Luper said a warden with the California Fish and Game Department came to her house to collect the dress
Klarissa was wearing, in the hopes they could identify which coyote, if any, attacked her. Samples were taken from the three coyotes that were shot, Mackey said, but coyote wounds are dressed
quickly, making evidence linking a specific animal to the incident hard to find.
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"With other animal attacks with mountain lions and bears, we're able to go in and identify a single animal, but with coyote attacks, usually by the time we get there everything's cleaned up," she said.
Staff writer Thomas Martinez contributed to this repot.
Other coyote attacks
Two people in North America have been killed by coyotes, according to Robert Timm, a University of California coyote researcher.
A 3-year-old girl in Glendale and a 19-year-old in Nova Scotia, Canada died from coyote attacks in 1981 and
2009 respectively, Timm said.
A 2009 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation article said the woman was a Toronto folk singer, Taylor Mitchell,
who was attacked by two coyotes in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
"There have been a number of other instances where small children were fairly injured and, had an adult not
intervened, they potentially could have been fatalities," Timm said.
Timm maintains a database of attacks reported in California that lists 21 coyote attacks since 2007, with only two or three per year since 2009. All three incidents in 2011 involved people being injured – not necessarily bitten – while walking dogs in Laguna Woods.
He said food – whether intentionally laid out for coyotes or not – attracts them, and said some can be
habituated enough to people to come out in the daytime.
"It really depends on the individual coyote whether they're trying to avoid people and are dusk-and-dawn
predators or if they own the neighborhood," Timm said.
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