COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife says a child is recovering after being bitten by a coyote on Wednesday.

Columbus Police and the Division of Wildlife responded to a report of someone who was bitten by a coyote near an apartment complex in South Columbus, just before 8 p.m. on Southpoint Blvd. and Obetz Road.

The child was taken to Nationwide Children’s Hospital with a leg injury.

“It’s very rare. So in probably my whole career that I’ve been in Franklin County, since 2000, this is probably the only second one that I am aware of,” State Wildlife Officer assigned to Franklin County Brad Kiger said.

Investigators said they searched for coyotes, but could not find any at the scene. While the officers did not see any, from how people in the area described it and where it came from, they assume it was a coyote.

“In most circumstances, like I said, you’re not going to have any negative encounters with coyotes. A lot of times they’re amongst us all the time,” Kiger said. “Usually, it’s complaints on just coyotes and presence and being around and what to do. So for this one, we were just trying to verify everything, make sure it was a coyote that did the attack or the bite.”

OSU Professor of Wildlife Ecology Stan Gehrt studies how coyotes interact with people in urban areas.

“In most cases, what we’re observing is that coyotes are doing everything they can to try and avoid us. And so that’s actually the key to their success and their ability to live in a city is to actually not have conflicts with us,” Gehrt said.

He said that attacks on people are very rare.

“There can be different reasons why a coyote might attack someone or bite them. The most common one is that they’re getting fed by people and they start to associate people with food, rather than being fearful of us,” Gehrt said.

ODNR has some tips to keep coyotes away from your homes:

  • Understand that coyotes are common throughout Ohio’s 88 counties in both rural and urban settings.
  • Identify that the canine is truly a coyote and not a stray dog. If you determine the animal is a stray dog, contact your county dog warden.
  • If you do have a coyote on your property, remove all attractants to possibly deter the coyote from returning. This includes removing garbage and pet food before nightfall and cleaning up around the grill. Coyotes prey primarily on small mammals, such as rabbits and mice. Small pets may also be taken. Keep small dogs and cats inside. Coyotes are curious, but generally fearful of humans. Clap your hands and shout in a stern voice to scare off coyotes that are investigating your yard.
  • If the coyote visiting your yard seems to lack a fear of humans or is presenting a conflict even after removing attractants from your yard, contact a nuisance trapper. Coyotes in rural areas can be controlled through legal hunting and trapping methods. See the Hunting & Trapping Regulations for more information.

If anyone has concerns about coyotes in their neighborhood, they are encouraged to call 1-800-WILDLIFE (1-800-945-3543).