Andrew Hughan, information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) told the Los Angeles Times that “People are not food for coyotes,” but a recent string of attacks in Montebello, California, contradicts Hughan’s statement.
The LA Times reports three people have been recently attacked by coyotes in the Montebello area close to a popular park and petting zoo, causing both ordered to close indefinitely.
Though coyotes attacking dogs and cats have been more or less accepted in the Los Angeles area, officials aren’t sure what to make of the recent activity.
The three victims — two men and a teenage girl — have occurred since July 22, the LA Times reports.
The newspaper writes the first attack came only July 22 when a teenage girl was sitting alone under a gazebo. A coyote reportedly approached the girl, bit her leg and disappeared with her shoe in mouth, Hughan told the LA Times.
The next two attacks came Aug. 6 when first a man who lives a block from Montebello Park was working under his car in his driveway when a coyote bit his leg, causing eight puncture wounds, the LA Times reports. The second incident that night came a few hours later when the newspaper says a homeless man was attacked while digging through trashcans. He had 19 puncture wounds. Both men went to the hospital for possible rabies infections, the LA Times reports.
“There’s really no explanation for why they bit any of these people,” Hughan told the newspaper.
The paper reports Montebello Park sits beside a large, uninhabited plot of land that features a flood-control damn and numerous aqueducts. Hughan told the LA Times the flood-control area has become perfect for coyotes.
Montebello Park is located east of downtown Los Angeles and covers about one square mile, the newspaper says. The petting zoo features a host of animals, including ducks, goats, donkeys and sheep, and the park has a playground, baseball fields and picnic tables.
The LA Times reports officials have set coyote traps and are hiring a contractor to shoot any coyotes in the park. Officials will also work with the city to put lids on trashcans and try to keep the park as clean as possible, including free of strayed pet food and filled bird feeders.
“Coyotes are very opportunistic,” Hughan told the paper. “They are just dogs looking for an easy meal, and they end up coming into contact with people.”