There was something different about the new attendee Monday at a California middle school.
For starters, he’s furry, and four-legged.
The new arrival, a coyote nicknamed “Wile E.” after the Warner Bros. Road Runner cartoon, made an appearance at Mission Middle School in Jurupa Valley, Riverside County Animal Services said in a news release.
Animal Services estimates the coyote is about nine months old; no one was hurt during the situation.
The organization got a call about the animal shortly before 9 a.m. A staff member spotted the coyote and saw it make its way into the open bathroom.
The bathroom was closed off until Officer Will Luna showed up, Animal Services said. He lassoed the scared coyote, then released him into a rural area away from the school in hopes that it won’t come back.
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School staffers told Luna that the coyote was seen multiple times before, but never inside the school.
“We are pleased that this incident was smooth and all the children were OK and we were able to get the coyote back to its more natural habitat,” Animal Services Director Erin Gettis said in a news release.
The coyote’s appearance at the California middle school is a reminder that in Riverside County there are lots of natural, open areas, so interactions with wildlife are bound to happen, she said.
“There are dedicated wildlife corridors and other open spaces, such as green belts, and these are areas where animals live,” Gettis said in the news release. “Due to population adjacent to these natural, open spaces, we are going to have encounters.”
California has an estimated 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes, according to the United States Forest Service.
Most adult coyotes weigh between 22 and 25 pounds, and males are normally larger.
They are most active at night and during the early morning and late evening hours, the Forest Service said. And young coyotes are more active during the day than adults.
They aren’t threatened or endangered in California and are considered non-game mammals by the Department of Fish and Game, the Forest Service said.
Some coyotes cause damage by killing sheep, calves, and poultry, or by biting holes in pipes, harming drip irrigation systems. They also prey on some endangered or threatened species, such as the kit fox and the California least tern.
In urban and suburban areas, they sometimes snatch house cats, small dogs, poultry, and other domestic animals. There have also been some coyote attacks on humans, including a two-year-old child who was attacked this past spring in Dallas.
Saleen Martin is a reporter on USA TODAY’s NOW team. She is from Norfolk, Virginia – the 757 – and loves all things horror, witches, Christmas, and food. Follow her on Twitter at @Saleen_Martin or email her at email@example.com.