The shades of grey, brown and black were simply stunning as the morning dew glistened off her coat. She stood on top of the wall that surrounds Cheney Estates with a light brown carcass in her mouth of what appeared to be either a small cat or dog. Her three pups raced below her as she tried coaxing them over the five-foot wall. The larger two pups finally took the leap and made it over easily, while the small pup ran down the wall and made its way under the metal bar portion of the wall.
She was most likely a third or fourth generation coyote, having been born in the confines of the city limits like the generations before her. Coyotes in the wild are smaller, in the 18- 20-pound range, while those born in the city are 30 to 45 pounds due to genetic selection and the amount of available food. She was on the higher side, well over 40 pounds, with full features and fine defined lines, a magnificent AKC specimen.
While she was a magnificent animal, I was devastated for the owners of the brown cat or dog that she and her pups were about to devour. Having lived in Paradise Valley for over 30 years, seldom can I drive one or two blocks without seeing signs taped to stop signs posting missing pets. While only an estimate, my guess is that several hundred pets in the valley fall prey to coyotes every year. Over the years, I personally have known of five dogs that have been taken by coyotes, one of which as the owner watched the horrific event 15 feet from her in her back yard.
Coyotes have no natural predators and have lifespans from 10-18 years. Their gestation period is 63 days and they typically have litters of three to 10 pups. The largest litter that I have seen was a mom with seven pups at the corner of Shea and 64th street. If you do the math, you can see that we will always have a coyote problem, and most importantly, the coyote over-population will only get worse.
If you call the Town of Paradise Valley to report a coyote issue, they will defer you to Arizona State Fish and Game. State Fish and Game will tell you that we are living in the coyote’s domain, and that coyotes were here before us, and there is little that we can do other than not to leave food out and to watch your pets. “Try shaking a can of pennies, or yelling in a loud voice,” was the suggested solution.
I grew up in Western Pennsylvania where deer were a common sight; however, one never saw deer in the confines of the city limits. That is, until now. Deer, like coyotes, take the path of least resistance and will migrate to locations where food, water, shelter and safety are not an issue. On a recent visit to Pittsburgh, I counted 17 deer carcass along Route 22, the main road that bisects Pittsburgh.
Coyotes are an epidemic in my neighborhood, so much of a problem that several years back, we hired a private company to live-trap the coyotes from our yard. They caught three coyotes within 24 hours at our expense. Both AZ Fish and Game and TPV will tell you that live trapping coyotes is not a solution in that the coyotes will come back. Their logic is flawed. I understand that coyotes will always be a problem, but why continue to allow them to populate and not limit their numbers? Would you stop trapping mice because you knew they would just come back? Would we allow a mountain lion to live in the city limits and not live trap it as it would “just come back?”
At eight o’clock this morning I was walking my dog a block from my house and came within 15 feet of a coyote. The coyote just stood there looking at me, hoping my dog would break free. I yelled and threw a rock at him and he trotted away, only to see him 100 yards down the road hiding behind a bush waiting for my dog to bolt. Last week a 4-year-old girl was attacked by a coyote in her front yard in Mesa. Phoenix averages one coyote attack on humans per year.
It would be great if the Town of Paradise Valley stepped up to help our residents with a live-trapping program in place. How many dead pets and attacks on humans does it take for our community to take action? The coyote problem will only get worse.
Reader reactions, pro or con, are welcomed at AzOpinions@iniusa.org.