Environment & Science

Officials euthanize 4 coyotes in wake of Irvine attack on 6-year-old

FILE: A coyote walks in a neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles early in the morning.
FILE: A coyote walks in a neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles early in the morning.
Stuart Palley for KPCC

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Officials have euthanized at least four coyotes around an Irvine park where a 6-year-old was bitten and dragged by a coyote last weekend.

Andrew Hughan with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said on Thursday it's unclear if any of the coyotes was the individual that attacked the boy at Springbrook Park. 

The boy had been playing in the park when a coyote bit him in the arm and tried to drag him away.   The child's father and others were able to get the animal to let go and scare it away. The boy was treated for bites as well as cuts and scrapes. 

Hughan said the coyote responsible for the attack didn't leave enough DNA on the boy to match against the euthanized animals.  But the four killed coyotes did not have rabies.

State Fish and Wildlife Capt. Rebecca Hartman speaks to reporters about a coyote attack at Springbrook Park in Irvine.
State Fish and Wildlife Capt. Rebecca Hartman speaks to reporters about a coyote attack at Springbrook Park in Irvine.
David Gorn/ KPCC

Hughan calls Irvine a "hot spot" for coyotes. He says there were six confirmed cases of coyotes biting humans in the city last year.

Last October an Irvine man and his 3-year-old son were bitten by a coyote in front of their home.

"There’s lots of open space, lots of parks, lots of food water and shelter. A lot of coyote habitat," Hughan said of Irvine. "Then there’s a lot of people encroaching on habitat, walking their dogs, walking their kids. It’s sort of a perfect storm of coyote badness."

Springbrook Park does not look like a coyote hotspot -- with sedate homes surrounding it, manicured playground and a four-lane road full of traffic running behind it. But according to wildlife officials and local residents, the coyotes cut through the park quite a bit and use a path along the road to reach an open space area to the east of the park.

Local resident Justin Olsen said he grew up in this neighborhood and now has six kids of his own. Anywhere you see rabbits skittering in the underbrush, he said, you’re going to see coyotes as well.

“I think it’s a stark reminder that we’re living in a rural type area that we just build houses on. Coyotes were here,” Olsen said. “Every day you come home and the kids love to see the cute little bunnies, which is coyote food.”

Olsen said he’s not overly worried about the coyote attack. He said he always keeps his kids within sight. But he said it did surprise him to think of a coyote, especially an aggressive one, at the playground where his kids sometimes play.

This story has been updated.