Living with urban coyotes
If you’ve lived in Sun City West for very long, chances are good you’ve seen a coyote or two. If you just got here, plan on seeing one sooner than later.
Urban coyotes are a fact of life in Sun City West and elsewhere in Arizona. Residents have responsibilities to keep themselves and their pets safe. These intelligent canines have learned to adapt to living with humans, and oftentimes, we are not very smart when it comes to deterring their behavior. When we feed wildlife, or leave our small pets outside unattended, leave pet food outside, or even ignore coyotes when we see them close by, we are teaching them that humans are not a threat, and in fact are a good provider of food sources.
Many residents do not realize that feeding wildlife in Arizona is actually against the law, so if you’re doing it, please stop!
Because wildlife in such an integral part of life in Sun City West, the Rec Centers created a Coyote Task Force about 10 years ago to educate residents about living with urban coyotes. (Check out this informational video from the Arizona Game and Fish Department). We have information available in our Member Services Office, on our website, and in our New Member Packet to help teach newcomers and even long-time residents how to live with these animals. Most often, problems arise when pet owners leave their small pets unattended, or walk them on very long leashes. Coyotes are opportunistic predators and will take advantage of these situations; sadly, these pets can fall victim to the coyotes.
If you have encountered a coyote that you think is a threat – and by threat we mean something that goes beyond typical coyote behavior – we encourage you to call our Wildlife Services Manager Jackie Van Ogtrop at 623-584-1784. She will take a report and if we notice a trend in an area or the incident rises to a certain level, we will notify the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Otherwise, as you are navigating your daily life in Sun City West, we ask you to join us in helping educate your fellow residents about living with urban coyotes, especially those who are new to this area and aren’t aware of these cardinal rules:
- Do not feed wildlife
- Do not leave pet food outside
- Do not leave pets unattended
- Avoid walking your pets at dawn and dusk
- Make noise or otherwise scare away coyotes when you see them
This will teach these animals a healthy respect for humans and encourage them to seek other areas to call home.