June 2, 2008
A coyote that attacked a
toddler in Lake Arrowhead May 6 is no longer a threat to the
community. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) announced today
that conclusive DNA evidence proves that the coyote shot by a DFG
game warden on May 8 was the one responsible for attacking the
child two days earlier.
“By matching the DNA from the coyote carcass with the DNA found in
the coyote saliva on the victim’s clothing, we and our
collaborating lab at UCLA were able to confirm the DNA match,”
said Jeff Rodzen, Ph.D., Senior Wildlife Forensic Specialist with
the DFG Wildlife Forensic Laboratory.
The finding provides closure to fears that the coyote that
attacked the 18-month-old child could still be at large. The child
was airlifted to Loma Linda University Hospital for treatment of
puncture wounds to the head and neck area. The wounds were not
life threatening. She is recovering from the wounds.
On May 6, Lieutenant Mike Stefanak met with the parents of the
child and secured their permission to collect DNA material from
the victim’s clothing in hopes it would contain saliva from the
coyote. Stefanak collected samples and possible evidence from the
attack and shipped it to the DFG Wildlife Forensic Laboratory in
Rancho Cordova, Calif.
The night of May 8, DFG Warden Brady Hill shot a coyote three
blocks from the site of the attack in Lake Arrowhead. The coyote
matched the family’s description of the one that grabbed their
child by the head and tried to drag her off. DFG wardens and U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services agents spent
three nights tracking, setting traps and attempting to take the
coyote suspected of the attack.
DNA from the muscle and skin cell tissues of the coyote were then
matched conclusively with cells contained in the saliva from the
bite area on the clothing.
Assistant Chief of Enforcement Mike McBride said, “This finding
reinforces the importance of thorough investigative work and DFG’s
policy of the selective removal of animals. DFG is very
appreciative of the work done over the years by USDA Wild Services
(WS) colleagues. The combined expertise of DFG and WS personnel is
key to successfully protecting our constituents in public safety