Coyote attacks, seriously injures girl in Huntington Beach

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA - January 26: A drone view of the sun setting over Ruby's Diner, which has been located at the end of the Huntington Beach Pier for nearly 30 years, and will close Friday night following bankruptcy proceedings. The diner opened in 1993, will be replaced by a seafood restaurant. Photo taken Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021 in Huntington Beach, CA. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
A girl was attacked by a coyote north of the Huntington Beach Pier on Thursday night. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A young girl was attacked by a coyote in Huntington Beach on Thursday night, according to authorities.

The girl was taken to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Huntington Beach Police Department. The victim was not identified because she is a minor.

The attack occurred north of the pier about 9:45 p.m., police said. The toddler was with her mother on the beach when the coyote attacked, Lt. Toby Archer said.

Video posted on social media shows the coyote attacking the child and knocking her down before scurrying off.

When police responded to the 911 call, they saw two coyotes nearby and shot at them, Archer said. The first coyote was shot and killed near Pacific Coast Highway and Goldenwest Street. The second coyote, believed to be the one that attacked the girl, was also shot but eluded capture and escaped into the wetlands near Beach Boulevard and Atlanta Avenue, Archer said.

By Friday afternoon, officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife found an injured coyote under a trailer home near the pier. Officers caught the coyote and euthanized it, said Cpt. Patrick Foy of the department's law enforcement division.

Officers are hopeful it's the coyote that was shot and wounded Thursday night and believed to have attacked the girl, but they won't know until they test the carcass. Testing will take place in Sacramento over the weekend to compare its DNA to the girl's bite wounds. Both animal carcasses will also be tested for rabies, Foy said.

"There's no evidence to suggest the coyote was rabid, but that test will certainly help alleviate any concerns the family might have," Foy said.

Authorities have also stepped up their trapping efforts in recent weeks as animals seek water amid a continuing drought.

Foy could not speculate why the attack took place near the pier. The family was not doing anything to provoke the wild animals. A department officer took forensic samples from the girl's wounds at the hospital, Foy said.

Coyote attacks are not common, he said, but added that whenever people encounter a wild animal like a coyote they should try to scare the animal away by making loud noises.

"Don't feed them. That's the most important thing we can do as a society to keep coyotes from being too comfortable around people," Foy said.

Police ask the public to contact law enforcement if they spot a coyote by calling (714) 960-8811.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.