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A coyote spooked parents near Linden School Friday morning, but a secretary at the school confirmed police responded to the scene and students were never in danger.
Recess ended a few minutes early that morning after parents reported spotting the creature, she said.
Animal Control Officer Kevin Alkins was not immediately available for comment Friday afternoon, but told WCVB news that the animal appeared injured and was not a major threat to safety.
"He hasnt shown any displays of aggression," he said. "...If anything he seems a bit timid."
Police officers will be on hand to provide extra protection during student drop-off and pick-up periods this Monday and Tuesday, the school told parents.
Should we freak out?
Not really. Attacks by coyotes are extremely rare: only about 160 attacks were recorded from 1976-2006, at a rate never exceeding 12 attacks a year.
Only one coyote attack in that period - on a 3-year-old girl playing in her front yard in Glendale, California in 1981 - was fatal. In contrast, an average of 73 people die from lightning in the United States each year alone.
Still, residents have reason to exercise some caution. Like any wild animal, coyotes can also exhibit unpredictable behavior and carry a variety of diseases, including rabies. Though rare, attacks typically occur when humans approach a coyote themselves, usually to feed them.
Residents should keep an eye on any outdoor pets, who have a much greater risk of a coyote attack. Both pets and small children are more likely to be attacked when unaccompanied by an adult.
Witnesses weigh in:
Witnesses said the coyote appeared injured.
"I was face to face with it this morning," Andrea Raduazzo wrote on Facebook. "It is big and scary looking. He did just turn and limp away (but) my main concern is that a little kid would think it was a hut dog and try to pet or 'help' it."
"Had a bad leg," @linuxlibrarian observed on Twitter. "It was hard to tell if it favored the front or back more. Walked very gingerly on one side. Was very mobile tho(ugh).
"Was also very calm. Wasn't spooked when I was on the porch trying to reconcile what I was seeing, but definitely alert and aware," he added.