Coyote Wanders Into 8th Grade Classroom, Interrupts First Day Back at School

It was the first day back at school for Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School in Northridge, California. But just as students were due to arrive, a lone, wild coyote found its way into one classroom, startling faculty and staff.

The incident occurred around 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, reported KABC, and, luckily, it was early enough that only teachers and administrators were in the building. The coyote reportedly roamed into an eighth grade classroom before it was safely removed by animal control.

A spokesperson from Our Lady of Lourdes told Newsweek the coyote entered the school via their main driveway, as the gate had been left open for cars dropping off students. It ran into the classroom, which was empty at the time, passing staff and faculty on its way. "Initially a few staff members tried to shoo the coyote out of the classroom but it seemed frightened and coward in the corner," noted the spokesperson.

Eventually, the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control came and took the animal "without incident." The majority of the school's students remained unaware of the situation, while the eighth graders who were affected were "by and large amused" by the situation.

"The coyote never presented a threat," added the spokesperson. "It was far away from the adults on campus and when students arrived it was closed in the classroom."

"I've dealt with other [kinds] of animals here, like wildlife outside," explained Reverend Filiberto Cortez to KABC, citing crows as one example of the types of creatures he's encountered. "But this is the first time in a...school setting where, actually, a coyote walks in."

Coyote in Classroom
A coyote found its way into an eighth grade classroom in Northridge, California last week. A school spokesperson said the coyote never posed a threat and was later removed by the Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control. Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School

Reverend Cortez expressed empathy for the animal, as coyote populations are facing widespread displacement and habitat loss due to climate change-induced drought.

"They're just trying to survive out there," he said.

All over the state, coyote sightings in suburban and urban areas have been on the rise.

"Frankly, throughout the state of California, we are seeing what seems like an increase in coyote visits," explained Tim Daley, public information officer for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, to Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara-based publication.

"The drought in general is playing a role in a likely increase in wildlife activity in animals that we have not seen before," he said, adding that the coyotes are probably traveling farther distances than previously to access food and water.

However, as the Human Society of the United States notes, "coyote attacks on people are very rare," and the creatures are typically fearful of humans. The key is to prohibit coyotes from becoming "habituated": if people feed coyotes, for example, the animals will lose their fear of humans. As a result, they may exhibit aggressive behavior, as they start to see people as a source of food.

Wildlife expert Jennifer Brent spoke to KABC about the incident at Our Lady of Lourdes, advising people to steer clear of coyotes—for both parties' sakes. "Don't feed it, don't try to pet it," she said. "These are all things that are detrimental to the coyote and detrimental to you. You want the coyote to get away from you, get away from people."

Brent also echoed that coyotes are fleeing their habitats due to drought and often find themselves looking for food and water in human-populated areas.

"The animals are suffering. The people are suffering," she said.

Updated 08/23/2021, 5:13 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a statement from an Our Lady of Lourdes Parish School spokesperson.