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Coyote that attacked five people in East Bay is trapped, killed after extensive search

A "Coyote Alert" sign warns people to keep dogs on leashes.
A sign in Moraga, near Oakland, warns residents about the coyote. Police had urged people to carry air horns or other noise devices while walking.
(Smith Collection /Gado / Getty Images)

An elusive coyote that bit five people, two of them young children, has been captured and killed in the East Bay community it has menaced for months, state authorities announced Friday.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it used DNA analysis to link the attacks to the animal, which was euthanized and will be tested for rabies. The attacks began last summer in the town of Moraga, which borders Oakland. Five people, two children and three men, were bitten in a two-mile stretch in Moraga and neighboring Lafayette.

“Personnel from CDFW, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Wildlife Services, the Moraga and Lafayette police departments and Contra Costa County Animal Services have been working constantly to locate and remove the offending animal,” the state department wrote in an email to reporters. “On Thursday, evidence from CDFW’s wildlife forensics lab matched the DNA of this coyote to samples taken from each of the five victims.”

The searchers laid traps and used coyote urine to lure the aggressive animal. Several other coyotes were caught and euthanized before authorities trapped the target.

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DNA has linked at least five attacks in the Bay Area to a single coyote. The incidents follow a 2020 upswing in attacks by wild animals in California.

The coyote approached and bit people without warning. Last month, it bit a 3-year-old girl as she walked alongside her mother, who was pushing a stroller. The woman said she shouted and waved a blanket at the animal, which retreated only to draw near again before finally running away. The girl suffered three bite wounds.

Authorities last month set up a 24-hour operation to catch the animal, setting leg traps in places near where the coyote had attacked people. Police urged residents to carry air horns or other noise devices when out walking.

Agencies involved in the operation said they were grateful to Contra Costa citizens “who have been overwhelmingly supportive of the effort to remove the dangerous animal,” the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement. “It is the sincere hope of the agencies that locals can recreate outdoors in the area again with significantly reduced anxiety.”

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Coyotes usually avoid humans and rarely bite them. Authorities believe this coyote lost its fear of humans because people were feeding it, perhaps inadvertently by leaving out dog food.

In 2020, a pair of hikers in the Marin Headlands were attacked by a coyote, leaving bite marks on their legs and feet. In July, coyote attacks forced authorities to briefly close hiking trails in Mission Viejo.

State fish and game officials urge California residents to visit KeepMeWild.org for tips on how to co-exist with coyotes and other wildlife.


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