CYPRESS ( — A 2-year-old girl was recovering Tuesday after she was attacked by a coyote at an Orange County cemetery.

KNX 1070’s Jon Baird reports one wildlife official believes the animal was not acting defensively when he attacked the little girl.

Klarissa Barrera, of Long Beach, was visiting a family member’s grave last Thursday at the Forest Lawn cemetery with her siblings and her mother, Michelle Luper, when the attack occurred.

“The image of her being dragged over headstones, helpless, grabbing for ground,” said Luper. “Her nails were bent backwards from grabbing the ground.”

When the coyote reportedly dragged the toddler toward some nearby bushes, Luper screamed and lunged at the animal. The coyote then released Barrera and ran off.

Barrera suffered a two-inch gash on her right calf and has undergone two painful rounds of rabies treatments. Her mother said she has two more rounds of treatment, but is expected to make a full recovery.

“It’s the worst feeling, trying to hold down your baby for something you know is going to hurt,” said Luper.

Luper says her once vibrant toddler is now an introvert and wakes up to nightmares.

Following the attack, Forest Lawn put traps on the property and security is now monitoring the area for coyotes. But the company admits it only started posting warning signs after the attack, and the family attorney says the company is refusing to release the incident report on the attack.

“At some level, you’d think the company would step up and acknowledge some responsibility and try to resolve it rather than force this thing into litigation,” said attorney Nima Nami.

University of California wildlife specialist Dr. Robert Timm said while these types of attacks are often defensive, the coyote in this case was clearly looking for a meal.

“That would appear to be the one of the likely interpretations,” Timm said. “We know in some cases that small children are very susceptible to attack by an animal the size of a coyote.”

State game wardens have since killed three coyotes in the area after what officials said was the first coyote-on-human attack in Orange County reported this year. The Department of Fish and Game reportedly believes the coyote that attacked 2-year-old Klarissa was among them.


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