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Coyote concerns on the rise after attack

Coyote concerns on the rise after attack

CREATED Mar 17, 2012

Reporter: Valerie Cavazos

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Coyotes attacking city folk is not an urban myth. 1997 in Pima County -- a coyote quietly approached a Rancho Vistoso neighborhood park where several kids were playing. Witnesses said the animal seemed to come out of nowhere and attack a 22-month old toddler. Elizabeth Malkin said her daughter suffered deep puncture wounds on her left eyelid after the coyote "grabbed her daughter's face."

Earlier this week in Maricopa County, Roberta Carvavello said she never saw it coming. While sitting on her patio, a coyote suddenly bit into her leg, latched on, and then just stared at her. She described her injuries, "4 punctures on the side of my leg and two in the back. I have stitches."

And 2 more people in Peoria were bitten this week. Scary stuff when you consider coyotes are common in rural and urban areas throughout state. Mark Hart of the Arizona Game and Fish Department said, "You can see them almost anywhere and almost anytime. I've seen a dozen in the past 6 months and I wasn't looking for them -- crossing Speedway Blvd., crossing Silverbell, beyond the backyard hunting cottontail."

So if they're everywhere -- the first question that comes to mind: "Do coyotes attack without provocation?" KGUN9 reporter Valerie Cavazos asked Hart. He replied, "The cases in Peoria are unusual -- on average there is one bite a year in Maricopa County." That's due to its urban sprawl. There are fewer cases in Pima County, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

Cavazos asked Hart, "So what makes them attack, what makes them dangerous?" He answered, "Not sure what happened in this case, but it may be territorial. There may be young nearby." He said coyote pups are usually born about this time of year. "So yes, we could start seeing some young ones right now."

Hart says coyotes can become bold and brazen when food is scarce and they are accustomed to being around people. "They can be quite curious. And they'll eat anything. They typically don't eat people, but they love to eat any kind of food stuff they can find," including garbage and pet food left ouside.

Wildlife experts says most problems happen when people feed coyotes -- either intentionally or unintentionally. Coyotes lose their fear of people -- when they associate the smell of man with food.
By the way, it's illegal to feed wildlife.

If you do see coyotes nearby -- wildlife experts suggest two things -- make loud noises to scare it off -- or spray it with hose or watergun. But if you see a coyote that is acting restless or agitated, or drooling excessively  -- call 9-1-1 or the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-452-0700.