By Hojun Choi
From The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS—Three coyotes have been killed in the search for the animal that put a 2-year-old boy in the hospital earlier this week.
Adam Henry, a wildlife damage management biologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said during a news conference on Thursday the goal of the operation is to eliminate coyotes that are showing “aggressive” behavior around the area where the attack occurred in Lake Highlands. The boy’s father has told The Dallas Morning News that his son is in stable condition.
Officials also set up a hotline for people to report coyote sightings.
Following the attack on Tuesday, a police officer found a coyote near the area and shot at it near a park in the area. But it’s unclear whether it was hit before it disappeared into the woods.
Henry told The Dallas Morning News that authorities are also looking for physical characteristics that fit the description of the coyote that attacked the toddler on the porch on Royalpine Drive, but added they may “never possibly know” if the animal is the same one.
Henry said the coyote killed overnight is believed to have approached a woman who was walking her dog Wednesday.
The physical markings on the coyote that was killed overnight closely resembled descriptions provided to wildlife authorities. The coyote that attacked the boy has been reported to be missing a patch of fur on its back and the tip of its tail is white.
“It had very similar markings from the photos we’re seeing on social media platforms and those that have been given to us by residents,” Henry said. “All the others were very similar as well—it’s that close.”
Henry said the number of coyotes near the area is not problematic. Instead, he and other wildlife officials who are trying to address the problem are focused on the behavior of the animals when they are around people.
“Population size doesn’t matter,” Henry said. “Aggression matters.”
Multiple residents from the neighborhood have said they were upset with the city’s delayed response to coyote activity in the area. In a Wednesday news release, Dallas Animal Services had said it was conducting a review of calls related to coyotes it received in the last three months.
Ann Barnes, field manager for Dallas Animal Services, said the department received 14 calls about coyotes from area residents prior to the attack on the toddler. She said not all of the calls described aggressive behavior.
“We responded to all of the calls either by an officer going there in person, or by us contacting the complainant to get more information,” Barnes said.
City officials said they will implement a new hotline for reporting coyote activity that is separate from 311.
Barnes urged residents to use the new reporting system once it is launched—possibly this week.
“We think that for us to do better, we also need the public’s help to do so,” she said.
Brett Johnson, the city’s urban biologist, reminded residents to refrain from feeding wildlife, including coyotes. He said unintentional feeding, such as unsecured trash outdoors and food left out for stray cats, can attract the animals.
“If you do encounter a coyote, don’t let it get comfortable around you,” he said. “Raise your hands, be mean.”
Officials from Dallas Animal Services emphasized that they never intended to put blame on members of the Lake Highlands community for aggressive coyote behavior.
Jacob Darver, who has lived in White Rock Valley for about six years, said the department warning residents against feeding wild animals contributes to a false narrative.
Darver said he thinks the city should also do its part to not feed wildlife, pointing to trash cans along Goforth Road.
“My question to them is how frequently are they emptying those trash cans?” he said. “They can’t necessarily only bring in the neighborhood when there is city property that is sitting right there full of trash.”
Heather Duge, who also lives in the area, said she does not believe that anyone in the neighborhood was feeding wild animals.
“I think everybody in our neighborhood agrees that (coyotes) are not being fed,” she said. “We’ve been doing the opposite; we’ve been doing everything in our power to get rid of it.”
In a Facebook post, Dallas City Council member Adam McGough invited residents to a town hall meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at White Rock Elementary School. The meeting, in part, will focus on residents’ concerns about the city’s protocol for reporting coyote encounters, according to the post.
©2022 The Dallas Morning News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.