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Killed coyote sent off to be tested for rabies, 1 of 3 'removed' from the area following attack of toddler, official says

Dallas Animal Services said there were 14 calls about coyote sightings in the area before the 2-year-old was attacked.

DALLAS — A coyote was shot Wednesday evening, which may have been the coyote that critically injured a 2-year-old in front of a home in the White Rock Valley area Tuesday morning, Dallas Animal Services said.

A spokesperson with DAS said the agency believes it to be the same coyote. 

"We are sending a DAS officer to collect the animal for rabies testing," DAS Spokesman Marlo Clingman said Wednesday.

In a press conference Thursday morning, USDA wildlife agent Adam Henry told the media the coyote put down Wednesday night was one of three that have been removed in the area since Tuesday's incident. The coyote killed Wednesday night showed aggressive behavior by advancing across the street toward a woman walking her dog on a leash, Henry said. The coyote made it within 15 to 20 feet of the woman and her dog "before action was taken." 

Henry would not confirm it was the same coyote that attacked the 2-year-old, but said it was "exhibiting extreme aggression that could have potentially been one of those." 

The initial incident started on Tuesday, May 3.  Dallas police responded to a home on Royalpine Drive at about 8:30 a.m. When officers arrived, they learned that the 2-year-old was attacked while sitting on the front porch. 

DAS said in Thursday's press conference that there were 14 calls received about coyote sightings within a mile radius of the child attack location prior to the incident.

According to police, the 2-year-old was sent to a hospital in critical condition. Thursday afternoon, family members told WFAA the child, Landon “Knox” Thomas suffered neck lacerations, a hairline jaw fracture, bruises and scratches in the attack. They said Knox was able to get out of bed and walk for the first time, and he was able to eat solid foods.  

Credit: Thomas Family
A picture of 2-year-old Landon "Knox" Thomas

The Dallas County Game Warden joined police as they continued looking for the coyote Tuesday. An officer saw a coyote near a park on Royalpine and shot at it before it ran into the woods. By 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Dallas Animal Services said the coyote was isolated in a wooded area after being located by the Dallas Police Department's infrared drone. 

Dallas Animal Services said that, during the investigation into the attack, it was clear that the coyote was well-known in the neighborhood and that residents were routinely handfeeding and petting the coyote due to its lack of fear of human contact.

“This tragic incident shows why it is critical that residents treat all wildlife as wild animals – when wild animals become too comfortable around humans, there is an increase in problematic and dangerous interactions such as this one that put both residents and the animal itself at risk,” Dallas Animal Services said in part in a news statement released Tuesday afternoon.

Brett Johnson, City of Dallas urban biologist, corroborated that claim in Thursday morning's press conference, saying he responded to the incident on Tuesday, and three different people told him the coyote had been intentionally-fed by humans.

Neighbors who reached out to WFAA, though, denied that they'd seen anyone actively feeding the coyote.  

That's not to say, however, that the animal wasn't finding sources of food in the area. Doorbell camera footage shared with WFAA by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department shows a coyote – reportedly the same one that injured the child – stealing a DoorDash order off another nearby neighbor's porch. 

This is an example of what Johnson called "unintentional feeding." Johnson also said he noted multiple examples of "unintentional feeding" in the neighborhood as he drove around. Some other generic examples of unintentional feeding he gave were: trash being left out, outdoor cat food and overflowing bird feeders (attracts rodents, which in turn attracts coyotes).

A man on Nextdoor told WFAA their dog was attacked and killed by a coyote who jumped over their fence.

On Wednesday, Dallas Animal Services set up cameras and traps in the neighborhood. 

Dallas Animal Services said if you run into a coyote, call 911 and don’t approach it. Try these hazing techniques to scare it off: 

  • Use your body: The simplest method of hazing is making yourself loud and large. Stand tall, wave your arms and yell at the coyote until it runs away.
  • Use noisemakers: Try sounding off whistles, air horns, or bells; shake soda cans filled with pennies or pebbles; stomp your feet or bang pots and pans together.
  • Use projectiles: Toss sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls near the coyote to startle it (do not attempt to hit the coyote with these objects).
  • Others: Spray the coyote with a hose or fill a water gun or spray bottle with vinegar water and spray at them. Pepper spray and bear repellant may also be used. 

Henry with USDA said there was an incident where a "vigilante" attempted to remove a coyote themselves and urged the community to "let us do it in a controlled, professional manner."

Dallas Animal Services said a hotline will be set up for residents to report coyote sightings more efficiently. The hotline is expected to be set up before the end of the day on Thursday, and we will provide that number once we learn more information. In the meantime, residents can call 311.