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Wildlife officials: Two coyote incidents in Tucson area
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Wildlife officials: Two coyote incidents in Tucson area

A coyote bit a 77-year-old man north of Oro Valley

A coyote bit a 77-year-old man on the leg while he was standing on a back porch Wednesday afternoon in SaddleBrooke, north of Oro Valley, officials said. 

Thursday morning, a second coyote incident happened, this time in midtown Tucson. A coyote was put down at Arroyo Chico Park after it jumped on an elderly woman who was protecting her dog, the Arizona Game and Fish Department said.

The woman was uninjured, but officials urged her to get tested for rabies, the department said. Officials say the coyote had been there for days and had pursued other dogs.

The bite in the SaddleBrooke incident was superficial but broke the skin, said Mark Hart, spokesman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The man is being treated for rabies as a precaution at Oro Valley Hospital, Hart said.

“Once symptoms onset it’s almost always fatal,” Hart said. “That’s why we advise if you’ve been bit by a wild animal go get the rabies treatment as a precaution.”

Game and Fish officials suspect someone in the area is feeding wildlife though they don’t suspect the man who was bitten was feeding the coyote, Hart said.

“SaddleBrooke isn’t exactly a great coyote habitat,” Hart said. “Most coyotes don’t get that close to humans, so there’s something attracting it there and keeping it there and making it comfortable enough around humans to approach one and bite them.”

Game officials are not actively looking for the coyote, Hart said. If they found a coyote in the area, it would be hard to tell whether it’s the same one that bit the man.

“It was pretty brazen on the coyote’s part,” Hart said. “It showed familiarity with humans.”

Feeding wildlife in Pima and Pinal counties is a petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $300. Hart said there have been citations for it in the past.

There are many reasons why people shouldn’t feed wildlife, Hart said. Wild animals will respond instinctively and can bite humans if they’re startled, he said. Prey species can also attract predators.

“If you see deer and they’re congregating in your backyard you may well pull in a mountain lion,” Hart said.

If anyone sees someone feeding wildlife or sees a wild animal that seems comfortable around humans, they should report it to the department by calling 800-352-0700.

Contact reporter Stephanie Casanova at scasanova@tucson.com. On Twitter: @CasanovaReports

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