Child hospitalized after coyote attack in park

DUBLIN – East Bay Regional Park District staff have closed Dublin Hills Regional Park to visitors after a 5-year-old girl was attacked and bitten by a coyote on Wednesday afternoon, authorities said.

Park officials immediately responded to a location in the park around 2:20 p.m. after learning that the girl, who was walking with family members, had been approached and bitten by one of the five or six coyotes. The girl’s family quickly intervened and the animals fled.

Firefighters from the Alameda County Fire Department also responded and provided care before transporting the girl to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, a said EBRPD Police Captain Alan Love.

The park, which covers approximately 650 acres in an open area north of Interstate 580 and northeast of Schaefer Ranch, has been closed to visitors as park staff coordinate with officials from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to locate, trap and remove coyotes, park spokesman Dave Mason mentioned.

Love said he had no recollection of hearing of a similar attack in his 20 years working for the Parks Police Department.

East Bay Regional Park District Wildlife Program Director Doug Bell said a multi-agency response, including staff from the department’s Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service American Agriculture, would run as quickly as possible.

“It’s a public safety issue. It appears to be an unprovoked attack “on an adult and three children, Bell said.” In a situation where we have potential loss of life and threat of further loss of life with a willing animal in attacking humans, it is our responsibility to identify and eliminate the offending animals. ”

Bell, who has worked with the park district since 2005, said he did not recall a similar incident, and noted that the state’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife had promoted his guidelines for keeping coyotes wild by hosting a live social media chat this week using the hashtag #LetsTalkCoyotes earlier this week.

“It’s a bit devastating. We always ensure a balance between wildlife and the enjoyment that humans derive from parks. […] We are bordered by suburbs and our parks are located between major population centers. Coyotes therefore naturally take advantage of situations such as pet food left in yards, human food left out, or rabbits entering cultivated and irrigated areas.

Bell said the majority of interactions with coyotes tracked in the park are typically with dogs on or off leash, and rare but occasional small dog attacks have led officials to recommend leash hiking in the park. nature.

He said he couldn’t safely or reasonably speculate on whether the increased human presence in parks during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic was a factor, but added that staff had stepped up patrols in park assembly areas to note vehicle spacing and appropriate social distancing.

During a call Thursday afternoon, State Fish and Wildlife Representative Patrick Foy confirmed that a coyote had been tracked down and shot at dawn Thursday, and that laboratory tests to establish a genetic match with the girl’s abuser and any possible presence of rabies or some other illness could possibly be complete within a day.

“This remains a concern until we can identify this animal,” Foy said. “If this is conclusively determined, it will alleviate many of the concerns, but not all […] if we can relate, people want to have some kind of relief.

Foy advised residents and visitors to the park looking for exercise and fresh air to wear a whistle to help keep aggressive animals at bay and to attract attention, as well as to stand up straight. pick up vulnerable young children and retaliate with sticks, stones or other hand materials.

Check back for updates. Editors Robert Salonga and Annie Sciacca contributed to this report. Contact George Kelly at 408-859-5180.

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