ARLINGTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Officials in Arlington are sounding the alarm after two children were attacked by a coyote in separate incidents on Sunday.
Officers responding to a report of a 2-year-old bitten by a coyote on Epping Street around 5:40 p.m. learned that the little girl was bitten on the back while playing in her yard and dragged by the animal, according to a joint statement issued by Arlington Police Chief Julie Flaherty and Arlington Human Services Director Christine Bongiorno.
Then, about 10 minutes later, police were alerted to another 2-year-old girl being attacked by a coyote on Summer Hill Circle. That girl was also in her yard when the coyote approached and scratched her.
Both children were taken to an area hospital to be evaluated for non-life-threatening injuries.
“The kids were playing right in there and the coyote came right up and he scratched her right on the thigh,” said Donna Little, who lives near one of the victims.
Officials believe that the same coyote was involved in both incidents, and while they don’t believe it is rabid they do think it is being fed. Officials searched the area in an effort to locate the coyote, and continue to work to keep track of coyote activity in the area.
“I’d like to think they’re connected in some way because like I said it is rare … it would be odd to have multiple coyotes behaving in the same way in the same neighborhood,” said Mike Huguenin of Mass WildLife.
The incidents remain under investigation by the Arlington Police Department, Arlington Health and Human Services, and the Massachusetts Environmental Police.
Arlington HHS wishes to share these tips from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife for safely avoiding interactions with coyotes:
- Never provide food for coyotes or do anything to attract them. Coyotes rely on natural food and typically remain wild and wary of humans.
- Prevent coyotes from accessing food sources
- Food, including snacks, pet food, birdseed and food-related trash, can attract coyotes and other wildlife. Left outside, these foods encourage wild animals to visit residential areas.
- Only feed pets indoors and keep dumpster and trash areas clean, as well as keeping trash containers covered
- Spend time outdoors. Coyotes generally try to avoid humans, and their natural fear is reinforced when play areas, back yards and trails are actively used by people. The regular presence of people is a deterrent for coyotes to visit.
- Protect pets from coyotes. Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, coyotes do view cats and small dogs as potential food, and larger dogs as competition. For the safety of your pets, keep them leashed and under your supervision at all times. Also remember to feed your pets indoors to avoid attracting wildlife.
- If you encounter a coyote, Project Coyote recommends taking steps to scare it away — these steps are known as hazing:
- Stand your ground: Make eye contact and advance toward the coyote while actively hazing until it retreats. Allow room for it to retreat.
- Make sure the coyote is focused on you as a source of danger. Do not haze from a building or car where it can’t clearly see you.
- Continue your hazing efforts, even if there is more than one coyote present.
- Use multiple tools, such as loud sound, light and exaggerated motion.
- Hazing should be exaggerated, assertive and consistent.
- Coyotes have routine habits, so make note of when and where you encounter them. Ask your neighbors to assist in scaring them off.
- If a coyote appears sick or injured, do not attempt to haze it.
- Hazing should be avoided in the months of March through July, as well as if the coyote is a comfortable distance away, or if you encounter a coyote in an open area where a den may be nearby. You should haze a coyote if it approaches you, or if you see it comfortably walking in a neighborhood or park.
Residents who encounter coyotes should call Arlington police dispatch at 781-643-1212.
This is a developing news story; stay with 7NEWS on-air and online for the latest details.
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