Grocery Store Worker Injured in Coyote Attack

Liz Carey

San Francisco Bay, CA ( – A grocery store worker in the San Francisco Bay area is recovering from a surprise attack by a coyote recently.

Officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said the attack is the eighth in Southern California this year, and the fourth in the Bay area since April.

Officials said a Diablo Foods employee was taking a break behind the grocery store in downtown Lafayette, Cal., when he was bitten by the coyote. Officials said the coyote bit the worker in the leg in an unprovoked attack. The worker and other co-workers scared the coyote off, Fish and Wildlife Capt. Patrick Foy told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Field agents with Fish and Wildlife took DNA samples from the bite and from the employee’s pants to determine if the coyote was the same one that had been involved in other attacks this year.

“It’s certainly within the realm of possibility,” Foy said. “We’re going to do our best to find out.”

Officials said the same animal was responsible for two of the attacks earlier this year.

Previous Attacks

In April, officials said a coyote attacked a 6-year-old girl in Dublin Hills Regional Park, biting her in the neck and ear before the girl’s mother could scare the animal away. Then on July 9, a coyote attacked a 2-year-old boy near a restroom at the Moraga Commons park, biting him in the leg. On Dec. 4, a man was running on the track of a high school when he was attacked.

Officials determined that the July 9 attack and the Dec. 4 attack were from the same animal.

Kenji Sytz told KPIX5 that he was finishing his workout along the Campolindo High School track when he felt a sharp pain in his leg.

“There was literally a coyote latched on to my left calf,” Sytz said. “I’m working out and all I can think is, like, I have two friends with me! Is one of them — ‘Did someone do something to my leg?’ Because it first felt like a pinch but then it was a sharp pain.”

Sytz said he hit the coyote in the face to get away from it, and that he was left with a few cuts and two large puncture wounds on his calf.

Earlier this year, officials with Fish and Wildlife released a statement that said while attacks like this are rare, they can happen.

“These incidents highlight the importance of communities working together to eliminate sources of food that may attract wildlife to neighborhoods,” said Capt. Rebecca Hartman, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division. “When coyotes are fed, either intentionally or unintentionally by food being left out, they can become a public safety threat.”

The department said that trappers have been deployed to the areas of the attacks to locate and euthanize the coyotes, and that they are working to determine if the same coyote is responsible for several of the attacks, or if it is different coyotes.

“Coyotes are highly adaptable and often live in close proximity to populated areas where food and water sources are abundant. They usually fear humans and avoid interactions; however, if they begin to associate humans with food, they lose their natural fear and can become bold and aggressive,” the department said.

A 2000 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that animal attacks account for less than 1 percent of all workplace injuries and illnesses.

Looking at statistics from 1992-1997, BLS said there were 75,000 animal-related nonfatal occupational injuries in the private sector, or 0.6 percent of all nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving 1 or more days away from work to recuperate. On average, the report said, there are 63 fatal injuries and 12,500 nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving animals each year.

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