About six weeks after starting to actively patrol a midtown neighborhood, Arizona Game and Fish officials have decided to cease their active involvement — at least for now.
In October, about 50 residents from the Catalina Vista neighborhood and three other nearby neighborhoods met with City Councilman Steve Kozachik to express concerns regarding a rising number of coyote sightings.
At the time, Kozachik said as many as 17 coyotes were seen at one time. A coyote had also injured a resident’s dog, Catalina Vista vice president Alison Hughes said in October.
To deter the coyotes, Game and Fish officials made plans to use non-lethal paintball guns. The paintballs would also be used to mark the coyotes so officials would have a better understanding of how many coyotes were roaming the area, a tactic approved by the Humane Society.
In late October, Game and Fish officials began actively patrolling the neighborhood, which is near East Grant Road between North Tucson Boulevard and North Campbell Avenue. They entered the neighborhood during all hours of the day searching for wildlife and attractants, Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said.
Although officials heard coyotes howling to the sound of emergency sirens, they only saw a total of two coyotes, and those coyotes behaved appropriately — leaving the area after seeing humans.
The paintball guns were not used.
Officials were also able to identify what looked like a coyote den, though it remained undisturbed while officials were in the neighborhood.
One possible reason for the decrease in sightings could be education from Game and Fish officials and the neighborhood association. Initially, it was thought that the sightings were a result of residents feeding wildlife, whether intentionally or otherwise.
Game and Fish says feeding wildlife can harm humans and animals.
In October, the department implemented a zero-tolerance policy against feeding the animals in the neighborhood. State law says violations could come with a $300 fine.
Officials did some door knocking and also left door hangers, which listed wildlife-related tips, for residents.
And since the policy went into effect in the neighborhood, no citations have been issued.
“Residents now understand it’s not smart, and it’s illegal, to feed urban wildlife,” Kozachik said.
He said that because of Game and Fish’s involvement, the coyotes have also learned to not approach humans.
“Everybody learned and we’re all living together a little more comfortably than we did before,” Kozachik said.
Hart also said that when speaking with residents, Game and Fish officials were told the coyotes no longer seemed to be a major issue.
Although Game and Fish is no longer actively involved in Catalina Vista, the department will return to the neighborhood if they hear of any other incidents, Hart said.
“People are gratified for Game and Fish’s involvement,” Kozachik said.
“I’m grateful that they took this seriously and upped their game and addressed the problem in the way it needed to be addressed.”