So many coyotes are roaming a midtown neighborhood that state game officials announced Tuesday they plan to deter them with non-lethal paintball guns.
In one instance, food was left in a grassy roundabout in the neighborhood, Catalina Vista, and 17 coyotes were seen at one time, said City Councilman Steve Kozachik.
The paintballs will also mark the coyotes to give officials a better understanding of the population’s size.
This tactic was approved by the Humane Society, and the Tucson Police Department also supports the plan, Kozachik said.
“We’re not empowering citizens to go out and shoot wildlife,” Kozachik said, adding that only Game and Fish officials are permitted to use the paintball guns.
“The goal is not to chase them into adjacent neighborhoods; we want them in our neighborhood, but not in our faces,” he said of the wildlife.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department also announced a zero-tolerance policy Tuesday against feeding wildlife in the neighborhood, which is near East Grant Road between North Tucson Boulevard and North Campbell Avenue.
Violations could come with a $300 fine under state law.
Game and Fish says feeding wildlife is unsafe for humans and the animals.
Catalina Vista has reported a high number of coyote and javelina sightings, said department spokesman Mark Hart.
Neighborhood vice president Alison Hughes said a coyote recently injured a resident’s dog. Another dog was injured by a javelina.
To address their concerns, 50 residents from four midtown neighborhoods including Catalina Vista met with Kozachik last week.
To help address the problem, Game and Fish will be actively involved in the Catalina Vista neighborhood.
On Tuesday, department officials visited the area in search of wildlife attractants.
Hart said while some residents may not deliberately feed the wildlife, they might be doing things such as leaving pet food outside or putting their trash out too early — both of which can attract animals.
Officials have previously suggested that residents place Halloween pumpkins out of an animal’s reach or inside near a window for passersby to see.
There are also plans to distribute door hangers, which will list more tips, to residents.
“We’re in the process of trying to educate the neighborhood on how they can better live with the animals,” Hughes said.
“Some neighbors continue to feed the animals, and that’s an absolute no-no.”
Hart also said the neighborhood is fairly old and has many alleys and other places that wildlife may use as shelter. Stray cats in the area could also be an issue, he said.
Intentionally feeding the animals gives them the idea that humans are more approachable, officials said.
“Most people love seeing the wildlife,” Kozachik said. “They’re a part of the environment. It’s cool — but it’s not cool if they’re not afraid of me.”