It wasn’t smoking, and it wasn’t skipping class. But a coyote was hanging out in the bathroom at Jurupa Valley’s Mission Middle School on the morning of Monday, October 3. The young canine was sequestered in a stall until Riverside County Animal Services officer Will Luna came to the rescue.

In a video released by Animal Services, Luna opens the stall door to find the young coyote curled up and hiding in the corner behind a toilet. Earlier, school staff had discovered the intruder on the campus and attempted to scare it away. Instead, it ran inside the open front door and found its way into the bathroom. School staff told Luna that the coyote, a male believed to be about 9 months old, had been seen several times in the area in recent weeks but had never come onto the school grounds. 

Luna, who was called just before classes began, captured the animal with a catch pole and released it in a rural area away from the school. The bathroom was closed until Luna arrived. “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. She said the event was an opportunity to remind the residents of Riverside County that interactions with wildlife are inevitable. “There are dedicated wildlife corridors and other open spaces, such as green belts, and these are areas where animals live,” Gettis said. “We are going to have encounters.”

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An Animal Services tweet, with a photo of the coyote just before it was lassoed, said “No one hurt. Staff kept bathroom off limits, of course. Coyote released into the wild.”

Western coyotes typically weigh between 20 and 25 pounds, as opposed to their eastern kin, which can reach 50 pounds. The United States Forest Service estimates there are between 250,000 and 750,000 coyotes in California. While adults coyotes are typically active at night and in the early morning or late evening, young coyotes can also be active in the day.