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Apr 23, 2013 10:18 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Coyote sightings take urban desert dwellers by surprise

TUCSON- In one of Tucson's historic neighborhoods there's a lot of talk about an animal that seems to appear out of the blue.

"You sort of blink and you're not sure if they're there or not," says Armory Park Resident Pamela Sutherland. "And then they disappear."

Sutherland spotted her first coyote just last week. "I was driving home and so I turned on my high beams and it very casually looked at me," Sutherland says.

Resident Phyllis Factor spotted a coyote about a year ago and hasn't spotted one since. "I thought I saw a dog down at the corner of 12th Street and 3rd Avenue," Factor says. "Then I looked again and again and as it came down part of the street, it crossed over and I said: 'oh my gosh it's a coyote!'

Resident Robert Alacaraz is still waiting. "If I saw a coyote I'd recognize it," Alcaraz says. "I see a lot of dogs sometimes at night."

But at around dusk one evening not too long ago, News 4 Tucson captured some cell phone video of a coyote perched on 13th Street, between 4th and 6th Avenues. "It may be surprising to residents, but it's not surprising to us," says Mark Hart of Arizona Game and Fish.

Hart says the coyotes fall under the urban wildlife category. While they don't typically pose a threat to humans, they can be dangerous to small pets. "Coyotes will eat almost anything and they can be very tenacious in their search for food," Hart says.

He says they can jump a six-foot fence.

But most neighbors say they're not too worried. For now, they're just getting a kick out of "coyote watch" in downtown Tucson.

Sutherland read an email sent out to the Armory Park listserv. It says: "There's a gimpy coyote seen on several occasions strolling west on 15th Street at about 5am."

Alcaraz won't believe it until he sees it. "I don't see any coyotes, but the tigers, they're all over the place," Alcaraz jokes.

Arizona Game and Fish says if you encounter a coyote and it appears overly curious, walk away.

Making loud noises, or waving your hands can also steer the animal away.

For more tips head to: www.azgfd.gov/w_c/urban_coyote.shtml

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