Update: A DNA test has confirmed that the coyote that attacked a 2-year-old on a California beach last week has been killed. State officials said a DNA sample from the girl's arm matched one of the two coyotes police shot Thursday night near the spot on Huntington Beach where the child was attacked, KTTV reports. They found one of them on the beach and the other under a mobile home, still alive, on Friday afternoon. It has since been euthanized, police said. Results of rabies tests on the coyotes are pending. Our original story from Friday follows:
A toddler playing on a California beach was attacked by a coyote on Thursday night, police said, sparking a search for the animal. The girl, who was not identified, was hospitalized with nonfatal but serious injuries, KCBS reports. She was with her mother on the sand, just north of the Huntington Beach Pier, when the coyote pounced just before 10pm—knocking her down, apparently biting her, then running away. Video on social media shows the adults with their backs turned to the girl during the attack, per KNBC, not noticing at first. Police said the people on the beach did nothing to provoke the coyote.
Police saw two coyotes on the beach when they arrived, per the Los Angeles Times, and shot both, killing one. But the coyote thought to have attacked the child got away, reaching nearby wetlands. Police are tracking it with the state Department of Fish and Game and plan to euthanize the coyote if they find it alive. The dead coyote is being tested for rabies. "There's no evidence to suggest the coyote was rabid, but that test will certainly help alleviate any concerns the family might have," an officer said.
People who run on the beach said they're used to encountering coyotes. "We see them every single time," said Eric Brown. "Usually, they chase us. I've never seen more than one chase us at a time. Your initial thought is they're playing, but I do carry a very bright flashlight and pepper spray." Experts said coyotes' nature is to be fearful of humans, but they've become less so. "Don't feed them," the officer said. "That's the most important thing we can do as a society to keep coyotes from being too comfortable around people." (Read more coyote stories.)