DALLAS — A 2-year-old has been hospitalized in critical condition after being mauled by a coyote Tuesday on the front porch of the child’s Dallas home, police said.
The attack happened about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in a neighborhood just north of White Rock Lake in Dallas.
A police officer responding to the call spotted the coyote in a park near the child’s home and opened fire on the animal, which retreated into nearby woods, according to a police statement.
It was unknown if the officer wounded the animal, but an active search with a game warden began, police said. Police are warning neighborhood residents that the coyote should be considered extremely dangerous.
State wildlife experts said the coyote evidently had been fed by neighborhood residents, whether intentionally or not. Otherwise, the coyote would have shied away from human contact, said state urban wildlife biologist Sam Kieschnick. Such attacks “are not just rare, they are exceedingly rare,” he said.
The lack of fear of humans can be disastrous for the coyote, said Robert M. Timm, a retired wildlife biologist with the University of California’s Hopland Research & Extension Center who has long studied the history of human contact with coyotes.
A report Timm co-authored for the Fall 2017 edition of the journal Human-Wildlife Interactions cited a 2009 study that tabulated 142 reported coyote attacks on humans in the United States and Canada over almost a half-century from 1960 to 2006. A 2011 study recorded 26 coyote attacks on humans in Canada between 1995-2010.
“This is a difficult problem to manage, given the diversity of public attitudes toward coyotes, especially in suburban areas,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “It quickly becomes a political nightmare for cities, counties, and public agencies, as many people oppose any lethal control of wildlife, which at times is the only solution when some individual coyotes become habituated to living in suburbia to the extent that they attack pets and humans.”