MIDDLETOWN, N.J. – Authorities are setting traps to catch a coyote that brutally attacked a 20-month-old boy outside a New Jersey home Friday night.
The coyote bit Liam Sadler on the head and neck while the toddler was playing in a back yard, then approached the boy's grandfather.
“It proceeded to come after my dad. ... It was like it was used to people,” the boy's mother, Rena Sadler, told FOX News on Tuesday. “He shouted and then it turned around and walked away."
Liam, who was visiting with his mother from Florida, took antibiotics and received rabies shots after being treated and released from an area hospital, Sadler said.
The danger begins when the scavenging animals lose their fear of humans or when humans feed them.
“Coyotes start to recognize human beings as a good source of food,” said Dave Salmoni, Animal Planet zoologist. They become used to tearing through garbage cans near homes, where pets and small children also play.
“When they lose they’re fear of human beings” then they look to animals and small children as a possible source of food, Salmoni said.
Salmoni said adults generally are not in danger, but small children and animals must be watched carefully.
“Keep an adult next to anything small," he said. "An adult can chase one of these things off.”
State wildlife authorities could not recall the last time a person was attacked in New Jersey by a coyote, but the animals are blamed for attacking two huskies and a Yorkshire terrier that was not far off its owner's leash in recent days, Sadler said.
The state Division of Fish and Wildlife was called in Saturday when police, acting on a description of the animal given by witnesses, concluded it was a coyote, possibly one suffering from mange or some other illness.
Salmoni's advice: “Mind your neighbors. Don’t feed these guys. Put your garbage away.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.