Two toddlers were attacked by a coyote in their yards in Arlington, Massachusetts, in separate but terrifyingly similar incidents Sunday, officials said.
The same coyote is believed to have been responsible for both attacks, and officials are working to track it down, Arlington police and health and human services officials said in a statement Monday.
The first attack took place about 5:40 p.m. on Epping Street. A 2-year-old girl was bitten on the back by a coyote, then dragged, officials said. About 10 minutes later, less than half a mile away, another 2-year-old girl was scratched by a coyote in her yard on Summer Hill Circle.
Both girls were taken to the hospital and treated for what's being described as non-life threatening injuries.
“I really never imagined that the coyote would attack a kid, that’s, that’s horrible,” said Haiariang Huang, one of the victim’s neighbors.
“We heard a kid just screaming bloody murder like, at first it sounded like kids playing and we could hear it was just very loud, I mean a kid just screaming,” said Shawn Deshane, another one of the victim’s neighbors.
“The parents were outside, too, right out in front, and heard the screech, of the little one, and that’s when they saw the coyote,” said a third neighbor named Donna who witnessed the Summer Hill attack. “She’s got a scratch on her little thigh, she wanted to show me her boo boo, but she’s doing fine.”
Just steps from the Summer Hill Circle attack, a coyote was recently caught on camera by a home's security system, and another coyote was recently scared off by some dogs in the woods in between where the two attacks happened Sunday.
“It’s a little scary, honestly, we’ve got so many little kids in the neighborhood, we’ve got little babies and all that, kids running around, so yeah it’s a little frightening that there’s a coyote in the woods and around,” said another of the victim’s neighbors, Eric Mita.
MassWildlife and Environmental Police were combing the neighborhoods and the woods near where the attacks happened, looking for the coyote. They say it’s possibly the same animal that attacked a 5-year-old-boy less than a mile away three weeks ago.
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“It would be odd to have multiple coyotes behaving the same way in the same neighborhood, so there may be a food source, somebody might be feeding it and not knowing,” said Mike Huguenin, assistant director for the Wildlife Research Program at MassWildlife.
MassWildlife officials say they do not believe the coyote is rabid, but more likely habituated to humans in the area.
Anyone who sees a coyote in Arlington is asked to call 781-643-1212. Officials urged people who see a coyote never to give the animal food or do something to attract it, and pointed to Massachusetts' recommendations on coyote safety.
Local police, Arlington Health and Human Services and Massachusetts Environmental Police are investigating, officials said.
The attacks are the second and third in two months in Arlington. On Aug. 15, a 5-year-old boy playing in a sand box on Cutler Hill Road was bitten in the leg by a coyote, but was expected to recover.
People in that neighborhood -- which is under a mile from where Sunday's attacks took place -- said at the time that coyote activity was common, sharing videos of the animals roaming around and taking things in their yards and noting near-constant howling.
Earlier that week, a coyote attacked a 3-year-old girl on North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown. That coyote was killed and tested negative for rabies.