A nine-year-old boy from Winnipeg is in stable condition after being mauled by a coyote on Saturday night on the northern edge of the city, in what police say is an extremely rare event.
The boy and his sister, 15, were walking near Popko Crescent and Knowles Avenues when they noticed the animal, which chased them as they ran from it, according to a Winnipeg Police Department press release on Sunday.
The boy was mauled before someone nearby chased the coyote away, police said.
That someone was Logan Funk, 18, who told CBC he heard the boy screaming on his front street around 6:45 p.m. He looked out his living room window, saw the coyote chasing the boy, and said he knew he had to act.
“This is a little kid… people have to get out there and help this kid, right? It could have been worse,” Funk said.
Funk ran out and yelled at the animal, which ran into a nearby yard about 20 yards away.
Funk said he then ran to a neighbor to help and get water and paper towels for the boy, who had “spots” on the back of his head.
Funk noticed the coyote still hovering nearby and said he took a shovel and chased it to a nearby street.
Soon after, his driveway was flooded with neighbors who had come to help, he said, and police and paramedics also arrived soon after.
The boy suffered “significant injuries” to his upper and lower body and was taken to hospital, the Winnipeg Const police spokesman said. said Jason Michalyshen.
Waiting in hospital traumatic, says family
The boy’s family said in an email to CBC that they are grateful to their neighbors for helping their child, but spending hours in the hospital only added to the trauma he had already suffered.
“Our health care system is broken and not robust enough to treat one serious injury in a timely manner,” the family wrote, asking for privacy and declining an interview.
“Our poor boy was left with an open scalp for hours, which extended the trauma he had already suffered and made treating the gaping wound on his head much more difficult,” they said.
The family said the boy waited nearly three hours to see a nurse at Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Center, and nearly six hours for treatment.
They said they understood this long wait was not the fault of the staff, but was “a direct reflection of the limited resources available to them,” and hope the attack brings more awareness to the area’s “ongoing coyote problem.”
The area where the attack took place is a newer development bordering a large stretch of open land just south of the Perimeter Highway.
Neighbors who spoke to CBC after the attack said they had seen a large coyote prowling the streets for weeks and that a coyote had been attacking pets.
Michalyshen said it’s not uncommon for police to get calls about coyote sightings, but it’s rare that a coyote has attacked a person.
“What’s unusual here is the contact that’s been made…as far as I know that never happened…incredibly rare,” he said.
“Hazing” to deter coyotes
Police advised the public to practice “hazing” to deter coyotes if they approach. That is the act of making yourself look big and sound loud to scare off the animal.
“Examples of hazing include holding a coat or other item of clothing over your head to appear taller and yelling. A safety whistle is another option for making noise,” police said in the release.
Police are cooperating with Manitoba’s Conservation Officer Service regarding the attack, Michalyshen said. On Sunday, conservationists and police officers were seen in a parking lot of a nearby church adjacent to an empty field.
“I think they’re confident that they can hopefully identify, locate and manage that coyote as soon as possible,” Michalyshen said.
Funk said coyote sightings are common in the area, something he attributes to a high concentration of geese, rabbits and other wildlife in the area.