Likely driven by hunger, one highly-aggressive coyote is lashing out at southern California residents. DNA evidence from three of the attacks link each to one individual, officials state.
Once a rare sight, coyotes have become common across the continental United States. While these mid-sized canines were once shy of humans and elusive by nature, their ongoing adaptation to the widespread urbanization of America has brought them into rising conflict with humans. Typically, this takes place in the form of attacks on pets and livestock. In rare circumstances, however, coyotes will take their predatory instincts directly to humans.
In southern California, a startling example of this is making headline news. Coyote attacks on humans are on the rise – and even more shockingly, evidence suggests they’re all linked to one individual.
Most recently, a 3-year-old girl was bitten Tuesday while walking with a parent in Moraga, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to California Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy, “The coyote’s DNA profile is a match to the coyote responsible for the three other attacks that occurred all in the same vicinity between July and December 2020.”
This same individual’s DNA was also retrieved after biting a grocery store worker, then again after a brutal attack on a man using a local high school track for exercise. A 2-year-old boy was also subject of an attack in July, the trade reports.
Coyote Attacks on the Rise as Predators Acclimate to Suburbia
Capt. Foy is leading the effort to hunt, trap, and euthanize the coyote before any further attacks can take place. He states that other brazen coyotes caught recently are not this particular assailant. A DNA match has not come forward so far. All coyotes trapped are receiving rabies tests, as well, as are the victims. So far, no cases have been reported.
Foy echoes the typical understanding of coyotes, stating that most of the species are wary of humans and show a healthy fear. His concern, however, is that Californians have been feeding the canines. The more acclimated the canines become to humans and their food, the less afraid they are to approach. Moreover, this forms an association between the wild animal and humans as a source of food. If a coyote is brazen enough, then they will treat said source – humans – as food, as well.
“Coyotes have adapted to human encouragement probably better than any other animal in the wild,” Foy adds.
In fact, a previous report by Outsider, one illuminating study shows that some of America’s big predators, like coyotes, now get a startling half of their diet from humanity.
Whether it be canines like coyotes, wolves, and foxes, or bobcats, bears, and even mountain lions – DNA doesn’t lie. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison alongside colleagues at the University of New Mexico, use hair, fur, and bone samples to identify predators’ diets through DNA markers. And their findings are alarming.
Their study shows that American predators “are now getting nearly half their food from people. It’s a big shift away from eating foods found in nature,” the report cites. As a result, this could lead predators to “more human-carnivore encounters.”