HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif.
A coyote attacked and seriously injured a girl at popular Huntington Beach in southern California, police said.
Officers were called to the beach near the Huntington Beach Pier around 9:45 p.m. Thursday and found the girl, police spokeswoman Jennifer Carey said in a statement.
She was seriously injured but not life-threatening and was taken to hospital, authorities said.
The young girl was with two women and another small child sitting near the waves when she wandered “just a few feet” and was attacked, fish and wildlife department captain Patrick Foy said.
The coyote came out of the darkness, kicked and knocked the girl down, and attacked her for 12 seconds before her scream alerted the adults and the animal fled, Foy said.
However, he stayed around, pacing, before finally running away, Foy said.
The family did nothing to upset the coyote, he added.
Police then shot two coyotes. One was found dead on the sand about a mile north of the pier Friday morning while the other was spotted Friday afternoon under a mobile home and was euthanized, Foy said.
Officials will check the animals for rabies and try to determine if their DNA matches the attack, he said.
Coyotes are found almost everywhere in California, including cities, and authorities have long warned that small children and pets may be at risk. Last year, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife launched workshops to help communities manage coyotes due to an increase in conflicts with humans.
Foy said coyotes are generally shy and try to avoid humans. He estimated that there are only about 10 to 12 attacks a year in the state, mostly involving smaller children, but adult adults have been attacked in a few cases.
Carey said police have stepped up coyote trapping efforts across the city in recent weeks and have asked residents to report coyote sightings.
Huntington Beach on the Orange County coast has one of California’s classic surf spots and is known as “Surf City USA”.
No further information about the girl will be released as she is underage, Carey said.