Packs of four to seven coyotes have been spotted recently prowling the desert washes in Paradise Valley, and officials are warning to keep a close eye on children and pets.
“Although it’s rare, there’s always a chance a human could be attacked,” said Police Chief John Wintersteen. “Don’t leave your children out of sight at any time, but especially if a coyote’s been reported in the area.”
Reports of the wolflike carnivores prompted police to hold a coyote awareness meeting at 7 p.m. today in Paradise Valley. Officials with the state Game and Fish Department will speak about coyote behavior and what to do if you spot one in your neighborhood.
With the Valley experiencing more than 100 days without rain, drought conditions may cause bobcats, javelinas and coyotes to explore farther into urban areas, Randy Babb of the Game and Fish Department said on Tuesday.
“Because it’s so darn dry out there, people may see an influx of wildlife coming into neighborhoods looking for food, water and shelter,” Babb said.
“It’s like the animal version of ‘The Grapes of Wrath,’ ” he said, referring to John Steinbeck’s 1939 novel about the Great Depression. “They are looking for anything they can to survive.”
Babb said his agency receives most of its calls about urban wildlife sightings from Scottsdale, Paradise Valley and Sun City.
Officials cautioned against feeding wild animals, saying confrontations often occur when animals get too comfortable around humans. Coyotes usually can be scared off by yelling or making loud noises.
If a coyote poses an immediate threat to public safety or is injured, residents can call Arizona Game and Fish weekdays at (480) 981-9400 or weekends/after hours at (602) 942-3000.
Urban Coyote Meeting
Where: Paradise Valley Police Department Auditorium at 6433 E. Lincoln Drive
When: 7 p.m. today