A wild coyote mauled a toddler on a popular California beach for close to 15 seconds before family members noticed and stepped in to help. Distressing footage shot many yards away on a surveillance camera shows the moment the aggressive animal attacked the young girl.
The coyote first knocked the little girl into the sand before attacking her head with its teeth. Two adults in close proximity did not notice the attack at first — perhaps distracted by the sounds of the ocean. The coyote stalked the little girl for a few steps before leaping and knocking her over in one jump.
The attack occurred north of the Huntington Beach pier at around 9:45 pm. Floodlights from the pier provided the only light at that time of evening. It appears the wild animal went completely unnoticed on the beach before attacking the girl.
After a few seconds of terror, the coyote relented, likely realizing that its target was not what it originally expected. Coyotes often attack small animals like rodents, varmints, and pets. They typically do not engage with humans, though apparently the toddler was small enough to confuse the animal in the dark.
After escaping the attack, the little girl ran to the adults. Video footage shows that the adults immediately understood the gravity of the situation once they realized what had happened. An ambulance rushed the little girl, not yet three years old, to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Cops shot and killed two coyotes in the area afterwards, but not the one that attacked the toddler
Local authorities immediately set out to find the coyote which mauled the toddler. They shot two coyotes dead in the area, but confirmed afterwards that neither was the animal that attacked the girl. The Daily Mail (via the LA Times) reported that authorities shot another coyote — the one believed to have been behind the mauling — but that it survived its wounds, and scurried away before cops could catch it.
Currently, officers are comparing wounds from the girl with blood samples from the dead coyotes to determine if the pack may have contracted rabies.
“There’s no evidence to suggest the coyote was rabid, but that test will certainly help alleviate any concerns the family might have,” Captain Patrick Foy with the Huntington Beach Police Department said.
Foy could not produce any reasons why the animal attacked other than basic, instinctive animal behavior. The family did not provoke the coyote in any way, he said.
Foy said the best way to handle situations like this in the future is to scare the animals and make them feel uncomfortable if possible.
“Don’t feed them. That’s the most important thing we can do as a society to keep coyotes from being too comfortable around people outdoors,” Foy said.