And They Wonder Why?..Another Attack Right Near Me


Coyote attacks children in schoolyard
Two suffer minor injuries in San Clemente. Officials kill three coyotes nearby.

October 3, 2001

By JOEL ZLOTNIK........I thought my last name was weird
The Orange County Register

SAN CLEMENTE -- A coyote attacked three children Tuesday while they played on a crowded, noisy playground with a few hundred schoolmates looking on.

Luis Enrique Villalobos, 7, a second-grader at Truman Benedict Elementary School, and Allison Newell, 8, a third-grader, were treated at San Clemente Hospital for bites and scratches and released.

Officials said a third child was attacked but spared injury when the coyote bit into his backpack.

Three coyotes traveling together in the area were later shot and killed by Department of Fish and Game officials, who said the attack worried them enough to shoot all three, not knowing which one was involved.

"They should be afraid of us," Fish and Game Capt. Jerrold J. Spansail said, "and when they're not, then it really gets our concerns up."

Even when Fish and Game officers approached the animals to shoot them, he said, the coyotes were fearless....Could it be because the locals leave food outside their residences?

The animals will be analyzed to determine whether they were rabid or had any other diseases, Spansail said. A Fish and Game warden was expected to patrol the area overnight Tuesday.

Luis, one of the victims, said he was not afraid during the attack - and the principal noted that the boy did not cry...Future Predator Masters Member

"I thought it was a dog, but it was a coyote and he scratched me," Luis said at the hospital. "I tried to run away, and then it jumped on me. I tried to hit him, and then he was chasing me a little, and then he got away."....I want to adopt this kid

The attack happened about noon during the second- and third-grade lunch break, officials said.

An adult coyote walked onto the campus, which is surrounded by hillsides where homes are being built amid the coyotes' natural habitat, Spansail said.

The coyote approached Allison, who was in front of a classroom adjacent to the playground, and lunged at her.

Fourth-grade teacher Mitch Colapinto witnessed the attack and rushed at the coyote, shooing it away with water bottles, rocks - whatever was in reach, officials said.

The animal then ran through the playground and lunged at Luis. Another teacher hurried the rest of the children into classrooms as Colapinto chased the coyote from the playground, Principal Charlotte Hibsch said.

Hibsch said the parents of children who usually walk or ride bicycles home were called and notified of the attack, and the school called in extra buses for children whose parents could not pick them up. She said she was "amazed" by the attack.

"We've seen (coyotes) on campus at night, but never in the daytime, not even on the perimeter," Hibsch said....No rain, No game

Allison's father, Thomas Newell, who was at San Clemente Hospital with her, said a coyote attack was the last thing he expected.

"When you get a call from school, you're expecting that maybe someone fell down or was sick," he said. "You aren't expecting that they got attacked by a coyote."

Rich Johnson of the Capistrano Unified School District said it has a general safety plan but that this incident was "highly unusual."

"It doesn't specifically say coyotes," he said, adding that the actions by the teachers and principal to take the children inside and scare away the coyote were appropriate.

"I don't know how you plan for it," he said. "It was one of those bizarre incidents."

Parents picking up their children after school seemed to have the same impression. While many were shocked by the attack in broad daylight, they said they are used to sharing their neighborhood with wild animals.

"We have (coyotes) all the time in our back yard," said Terri Hunt, who has two fifth-grade sons at the school. "They come and strip our fruit trees. It's amazing. It's a little frightening when they come onto the campus."

Hunt said that during the past 10 years in San Clemente, her family has lost eight cats to coyotes. "We've given up on cats," she said.

County officials don't keep track of coyote attacks, but at least six have occurred here since 1986, all on children.

Most days, the county's Animal Care Services receives 40 calls from residents who have seen a coyote lurking around their homes or suspect that their cat or dog was prey to one. Huntington Beach, Tustin and Orange report the most sightings. Coyotes, using flood-control channels and rail lines, don't stick to rural settings.

"We've seen them in well-established residential areas," said Kathy Francis, a public-education officer for Animal Care Services. "Through the years, they have become more and more brazen.''If you build a sub division on my huntin' grounds I'd be a little pissed too

This attack happened not too far from where we've had attacks on humans by cougar, one fatal encounter. That took place in San Diego County, same National Park, Cleveland Natl Forest near Julian. San Clemente is just north of San Diego County and at the southern tip of Orange County.

Yer Pal,

All Your Yote Are Belong To Us!.....Huh?

Arguing on the Internet is like running in the Special Olympics - even if you win, you're still retarded.
Bob, HOW near you did this happen? I'm just over the 74 from San Clemente. Are we neighbors?
Yeah, for 16 years. The Cleveland is LOADED with coyote. I see bobcat up there every year. But it sure is rough country to hunt.
Oh yes, I'm planning on it. I have a Microsoft school to attend here in the near future, but even then, they're gonna have to deal with my absense for a few days.