The long, furry nightmare of the Bay Area is finally over.
A coyote that has bitten five people, including two young children, in the past eight months was caught and killed Thursday in Moraga, a suburb of about 16,000 east of San Francisco, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said Friday With.
“It’s a great relief for the community,” said Captain Patrick Foy of the Department of Fish and Wildlife in an interview on Friday. “You can finally enjoy nature again.”
The animal, a grown male, had threatened a two-mile-long area in Moraga and neighboring Lafayette since last July, but Captain Foy said a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services personnel finally caught it in a padded leg trap Thursday morning Section of Calle La Mesa street north of Campolindo High School.
Then came the anticipation. The Department of Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory compared the DNA collected from the coyote with samples taken from each of the five victims. The process took most of the day, said Captain Foy.
In the early evening the verdict was in: It was a match.
“Thank god,” he said.
The coyote began its terrorist attack in Contra Costa County last summer when it bit a 2-year-old boy in a park parking lot on July 9 and only released it after the child’s nanny hit him with a bicycle helmet.
It seemed like an isolated incident, but the animal reappeared with a vengeance and attacked a 45-year-old man on December 4th while he was training with friends in a high school field. a male clerk at a grocery store in Lafayette on December 15; a 3 year old girl walking down the street with her mother on February 16; and another man near a Kwik stop in Lafayette on February 19th.
All attacks occurred in the morning or early evening within two miles of each other, when the coyotes are most active.
Authorities had been laying traps for months in nearby locations where the coyote attacked people and tried using coyote urine to trap the aggressive animal, Captain Foy said. The Department of Fish and Wildlife, the United States Department of Agriculture, Moraga and Lafayette Police Departments, and Contra Costa County’s Animal Services were part of what he called an all-hands-on-deck effort.
Several other coyotes were caught and euthanized before the perpetrator was caught, Captain Foy said, including one about a week ago.
“It has been a lot of 24-hour days and nights and constant monitoring of traps and conversations with the public,” he said. “People have no idea how much time and man hours we spent.”
“Nobody wants to kill a coyote as part of their job,” added Captain Foy. “But now that it’s done, it’s a huge relief in our community.”
A rabies test is being carried out, the Ministry of Fish and Wildlife said in a statement. It found that it was standard practice and that there was no evidence to suggest the coyote was rabid.
Although coyotes are known to live in neighborhoods where they eat squirrels, mice, rabbits and birds, attacks on humans are rare, Captain Foy said. Coyotes have long been present in much of North America and live in all states except Hawaii.
“They are an important part of the ecosystem,” he said. “They are good at keeping rodents under control and are good scavengers.”
At least 10 coyote attacks were reported in California over the past year. But Captain Foy said the animals were nocturnal and fearful of people and usually tried to stay out of sight. He’s not sure why this one was so aggressive.
“This was a really unusual case,” he said. “I’ve been around 24 years and I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Kenji Stutz, the 45-year-old man who was attacked on December 4, said in an interview on Friday that he was relieved that the animal had been caught.
“It’s just a very unreal thing that there was a serial attack coyot here in our community,” he said. “When I’ve been walking with friends and family for the past few months, I’ve kept an eye out, so it’s a great relief for the neighborhood.”