Tempe coyote sightings prompt warnings from Game and Fish - East Valley Tribune: Tempe

Tempe coyote sightings prompt warnings from Game and Fish

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Posted: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 1:07 pm

Coyotes have settled into one of the last urban areas where the animals hadn’t established themselves, triggering wildlife authorities to offer tips on dealing with the four-legged visitors.

The animals have recently become active north of U.S. 60 from McClintock to Priest drives in Tempe, based on an influx of calls to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“People have told me they’ve lived in the area a long time and they’ve never seen coyotes,” said Darren Julian, one of the agency’s urban wildlife specialists. “And now, they’re seeing coyotes daily.”

Coyotes are more visible in the spring as they step up hunting activity to support their pups and introduce their offspring to the environment. They are more active at night but daytime sightings increase this time of year.

The new Tempe area is one of the last Valley places where wildlife officials hadn’t gotten reports of coyotes. Many Valley residents might have assumed their neighborhood is free of coyotes if they haven’t seen the animals, but Julian said they’re more common than many people believe. Nearly every part of the Valley offers the food sources coyotes look for, or is close enough to those places that coyotes are passing through.

The animals have been reported in nearly every urban area except downtown Phoenix, Julian said.

“There may be some areas where we don’t have coyotes, but there’s a potential to have coyotes no matter where you live.”

Coyotes are attracted to water in pools and pet dishes, and to shelters like storm drains or areas beneath sheds. They also seek food from bird feeders, pet dishes, garbage and fallen fruit — and pets or rodents that feed on those sources.

Wildlife officials advise people to discourage coyotes by not leaving food out for pets or feral cats, keeping poultry and rabbits in enclosures and trimming vegetation that would shelter coyotes or their prey.

Coyotes are more of a danger to pets than to their owners. The animals have bit or scratched 18 people since 1997, including three separate instances this March where Peoria residents were bitten at their homes. The injuries were minor.

Julian urged people not to feed coyotes, because many of the attacks have come in areas where people had been leaving food for them.

Game and Fish will trap and relocate coyotes in some cases, but Julian said that can be counterproductive because the remaining animals typically compensate by reproducing in greater numbers.

To discourage coyotes, Game and Fish recommends people make loud noises, wave their hands or other objects, throw small stones or spray the animal with a hose. The agency recommends using pepper spray or other repellents only in severe cases where a bold animal refuses to leave. If a coyote is aggressive, call Game and Fish at (480) 981-9400.

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