Coyotes, which have become bold enough to attack an infant in the backyard of a San Clemente home, are now the target of a major control effort that includes the use of a professional hunter.
The child was not injured in this week’s attack but did lose a piece of its diaper before the animal was chased off by the child’s father, according to Fire Chief Tom Daily, who also heads the city’s animal control department.
“The hunter has killed 11 of the animals in the last two weeks, and police officers accounted for two more,” Daily said. “The coyotes are getting bolder and their numbers are increasing as the pups born this spring are maturing and reaching the age and size to do their own foraging.”
Daily said the attack on the child, Antonio DeSantos, 2, occurred after dark last Monday while he was playing on the patio of his family’s home in north San Clemente. The infant called for his parents, who saw the animal and frightened it away, then discovered a piece of the diaper missing.
In order to discourage coyote forays into residential neighborhoods, Daily urged all residents to keep garbage cans tightly closed and not to leave food outside for their pets.
The situation is similar to the one in 1984 when special police sharpshooter patrols killed at least 17 coyotes over several weeks after attacks on two children.