Coyotes bite 3 people in one Peoria housing development

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The instances of coyotes hurting humans are rare, but in one Peoria neighborhood - it's happened 3 times in just the last few days.

The injured residents who all live in the Trilogy at Vistancia development near the Loop 303 and Happy Valley Road, are recovering from their wounds.

Roberta Caravello's injury was so deep, she needed stitches.

Caravello says she's lived in the desert community for the last 5 years and sees coyotes almost every day. But she's never fed them, and they've never been a problem.

On Monday, she was reading the paper, and books, like she always does when the weather is nice.

"I put my foot up and I was reading and all of a sudden I felt something that hurt me, and I looked down and he had his jaw, just like this on me," Caravello says of the coyote, her fingers gripped around her leg.

And the coyote didn't immediately run off.

"I was shoo-ing him away and I was backing up, he would take another step forward he kept staring at me," Caravello said.

And then on Tuesday, two others in the community were also bitten.

"A 73 year old man laying in his back patio enjoying the weather was bitten on the lower leg by a coyote. In the second incident a woman was again, similar situation, on her back patio - she was bitten in the side and chest area," said Jay Davies, spokesperson for the Peoria Police Department.

Thankfully, everyone is going to be okay.

But the instances prompted a reverse 911 call to residents nearby.

Members of the Arizona Game and Fish Department, along with the United States Department of Agriculture have started to search washes and set traps for coyotes.

Two coyotes have already been captured and euthanized, including the one they believe may have hurt Caravello - that one taken in just after her incident.

The animals are being tested for rabies and officials hope to find the rest - they say the coyotes involved in the recent incidents will likely be the ones out in daylight and unafraid of humans.

"It could be one single coyote that is overly comfortable with people, it could be 3 different coyotes that could be responsible for 3 different bites," said Darren Julian with Arizona Game and Fish.

Wildlife experts said it is rare for coyotes to hurt humans. They have one strong theory about why it's happening in this area.

"In all likelihood, it could be tied to a feeding issue, where coyotes are coming up to people looking for a handout and when they don't get those handouts that's when they usually nip at somebody," Julian explained.

So, as always, experts ask that everyone, everywhere stop feeding coyotes because people like Caravello pay for it.

"They're getting more brazen now, they're getting too used to the humans and that is not good," said Caravello.

A community meeting is being held on Thursday night at 7 .pm., at the Kiva Club in Trilogy to discuss the incidents. Residents are invited to attend.

Arizona Game and Fish Department Press Releases

Unusual string of coyotes bites hits West Valley

News Release: Tips for avoiding urban wildlife conflicts