As the weather gets nicer, coyotes are getting braver around Ahwatukee Foothills neighborhoods.
Mary Shumate says she was headed to work around 5:30 a.m. on Oct. 8 when she spotted eight coyotes in her gated community. They appeared to be eating pumpkins that had been left out on porches, Shumate said.
She did her best to honk and shine her car lights on them, and watched the pack slip under the fence and run away near the area of 12th Place and Marketplace.
A few days before that, Jack Kenney says he saw coyotes roaming his neighborhood near Knox Road and 36th Street. He later found half eaten cats, including his own.
The coyotes are most active early in the morning, and it's important to know how to handle the situation when one is spotted.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department says to discourage coyotes right away, to let them know they shouldn't be in the area. Loud noises like shouting, banging pots and pans, waving your hands, throwing small stones, or even spraying them with a hose can be a good way to scare them off.
In an emergency, continue to try to scare them away, but keep eye contact and do not turn and run.
Reach the Game and Fish Department at (602) 942-3000, or (623) 236-7201 after hours.
To prevent coyotes from being attracted to your neighborhood, remove any pet food, garbage or water sources they might use, the Game and Fish Department suggests.
Keep small pets indoors, or in completely enclosed areas. Coyotes can jump up to 6 feet, so a backyard is not always safe.
A coyote's diet includes fruits, vegetables, pet food, small animals, snakes, lizards and garbage, so moving pumpkins inside for the night may be a good idea, too.
For more information on coyotes, visit the Arizona Game and Fish Department's website at www.azgfd.gov.
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