Coyote in the Sandbox
updated 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/26/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Luckily little Madison fully recovered. But the attack—the first of three confirmed in California in five days—underscores growing concern among experts that coyotes, like bears and other wildlife, are losing their fear of humans as housing developments brush up against natural habitats. "Someone is going to be killed," says Kevin Brennan of California's Department of Fish and Game. "Most likely it will be a child." He advises families not to leave pet food outside and to scream at coyotes if they approach.
Fernando Hernandez, 39, already learned that lesson. A coyote bit his daughter, Iliana, 3, while on vacation in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., in March and began to drag her away like prey until a friend shouted at the animal. "You can't take nature for granted," says Iliana's mom, Maria Hernandez, 37, "especially with small children."