Coyote attacks, sightings prompt Montebello park closure

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed down Grant Rea Park in Montebello on Tuesday after three people were recently attacked by coyotes. (KABC)

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife closed down Grant Rea Park in Montebello on Tuesday after three people were recently attacked by coyotes.

Montebello police said the department received three reports of coyotes biting people within the last seven to 10 days at or near the park, which is in the 600 block of Rea Drive.

Authorities said the victims in the instances suffered superficial wounds.

The first attack happened on July 22, after 17-year-old Mona Ruvalcava and her friends saw a coyote and ran.

"All of a sudden, I just feel something grab onto my foot," Ruvalcava said. "I was just in shock. It was bleeding a lot. I'd never been through that."

The incident left her with four puncture wounds. On Tuesday, she said her condition had improved after she underwent painful rabies treatments.

The teenager's mother, Marie Ruvalcava, said she knew coyotes lived near the park but previously did not think they would ever attack someone.

"It's scary because kids run around, and who's to say if there's going to be (a coyote) coming out from a bush?" Marie Ruvalcava said.

Another victim -- a man who was working on his car -- was attacked Saturday night.

Early Monday morning, a man was collecting bottles and cans from trash cans near the park when he was bitten, wildlife officials said. The man had 19 puncture wounds and was hospitalized for a short time.

On Monday night, four coyotes were captured and euthanized. Investigators said they were looking into what prompted the attacks because coyotes are usually not as aggressive.

Wildlife officials said the park is an ideal area for the coyotes to roam, but when the public is involved in that it can become dangerous and action should be taken.

Department of Fish and Wildlife trappers are expected to search the park for coyotes again. Officials from the agency are scheduled to appear before the Montebello City Council on Wednesday to determine when the park can safely be reopened.
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