Sitting in our real estate offices in North Scottsdale, we can look out the window and see the open desert. We often see desert “critters” scurrying around in the wash and between the rocks. The Scottsdale and Phoenix areas have many neighborhoods with homes built adjacent to open spaces and beautiful wild desert. As full-service realtors who specialize in the Scottsdale and Phoenix areas, we often get calls about the critters our clients have seen in their neighborhoods or back yards.
We hope you will find this article on Urban Wildlife helpful if you should notice either of these animals in your Phoenix or Scottsdale neighborhood.
Coyotes can be seen at golf courses, preserves, parks and other open spaces near residential properties. When developments are built, coyotes are not permanently displaced. They may move on to other areas or remain and adjust to their new environment.
Coyotes are usually timid animals and normally run away if challenged. On rare occasions, bold coyotes have bitten humans. Coyotes can be rabid, so it is important to avoid being bitten. Coyotes are a risk when they have become comfortable around humans. When this happens, they lose their natural fear and learn to see humans and their pets as food sources and backyards as safe havens. It is not normal for coyotes to attack or pursue humans, especially adults; it is a learned response to human indifference.
Small children are at risk from coyotes. Children should be well-supervised at all times, especially where wildlife may be a concern. Teach children to remain calm and not to shriek or scream if they see a coyote (this might sound like wounded prey to the animal) and to move toward an adult or group of adults.
Small animals (cats, small dogs, or rabbits) are seen as “dinner” to a coyote. Cats should be kept indoors permanently, or in an outdoor enclosed cat run. Keep your dog on a leash when you are in open areas. If your dog is small, be prepared to gather the dog up in your arms if you see a coyote. Then move towards an area of human activity while making loud noises and using big gestures.
To aggressively discourage coyotes from hanging around and feeling comfortable around your family and your neighborhood, you should:
- eliminate food sources (pet food and small animals) from your yard and encourage your neighbors to do the same. This must be a unified neighborhood effort. If there is a regular coyote food source in one yard on your block, coyotes will be active throughout the neighborhood.
- Erect high fences (7 feet plus) flush to the ground discourage coyotes from entering yards. Eliminating the coyote’s ability to get a grip on the top of the fence or wall is the best means of prevention. Installing a PVC pipe that is free to spin around a tight wire is a good method to use.
- Discourage any coyote from entering your yard and make it aware that it is not welcome. Coyotes have been scared off properties by aggressive gestures: waving sticks or brooms at them, throwing stones or cans at them, or making loud noises. A simple deterrent you can make: fill an aluminum can with small pebbles or coins inside, wrap the can in aluminum foil, and seal with tape; shake this vigorously – it can make enough noise and “flash” to scare off a coyote.
- Deter a coyote if you see one in your neighbor’s yard. Having a coyote in a neighbor’s yard is the same as having one in your own.
If a coyote approaches you, you should appear as large and threatening as possible. Make aggressive gestures toward the animal by moving your arms and legs, shouting in a deep voice, throwing rocks, sticks or other objects at the coyote, or waving an object like a handkerchief or walking stick. Maintain eye contact and move toward an area that is full of human activity.
If these methods do not appear to be working, do not turn away or run. Keep constant eye contact with the coyote and continue to move toward other people, a building, or an area of activity.
If you have a persistent problem with coyotes call the Arizona Fish and Game Dept. at 602-942-3000.
Javelina are sometimes seen in semi-urban areas near a wash or natural desert and even in urban settings where a food souce is available. They have been known to damage ornamental landscapes and gardens, injure pets, and frighten homeowners. They can be belligerent when they are allowed to become comfortable in an area.
Javelina travel in herds of eight to twelve, although lone males are common, too. They may act defensively when cornered, to protect their young, or when they hear or smell a dog. This behavior may include charging, teeth clacking, or a barking, growling sound. Javelina occasionally bite humans, but usually only those people providing the javelina with food. A single javelina could easily kill a large dog, or do severe damage to an adult human.
Javelina have adapted to human presence by being more active at night to avoid human interference. They usually visit homes at night, but have been known to do so during the day in cooler weather. Javelina are known to choose daytime bedding sites where visibility is completely obstructed by dense vegetation and rocks.
Javelina visit neighborhoods because they are attracted to:
- food – lush vegetation, flowers and succulent plants, like prickly pear cacti, that people place around their homes; also pet food, birdseed, table scraps, and garbage
- water – javelina will chew on an irrigation hose or drink from a pool around a home
- shelter – a porch, an area under a mobile home, a crawlspace beneath a house or any cave-like area.
To discourage javelina:
- Use electric fencing to deny javelina access. Single-strand electric fencing 8 to 10 inches above ground level is the most effective around gardens.
- Use block walls or chain link fencing about 4 feet tall around the entire yard. Use a concrete footer buried 8 to 12 inches into the ground to prevent digging under.
If you are not able to erect physical barriers, and are experiencing a javelina “invasion”, you should make it unpleasant for them to stick around. Because they are herd animals, you may only have to scare off one to make the rest leave.
- Do not provide food for the javelina. Feed pets inside or only what they can eat at one meal. Do not leave food out or scatter birdseed. Pick up fallen fruits and nuts as quickly as possible. If you know someone who feeds javelina, let them know they are endangering themselves, the javelina and you.
- Keep water sources out of reach of the javelina or behind strong fencing.
- Secure garbage and compost containers with locking lids or by attaching them to a wall. Clean out cans with a bleach solution to reduce attractive odors.
- Landscape with plants javelina do not like to eat. A list of these plants can be found at: https://cals.arizona.edu/pubs/garden/az1238.pdf.
- Spray then javelina with water from a garden hose, or use a large squirt gun to spray diluted ammonia (10% ammonia with 90% water) at them.
- Loud noises have been known to frighten javelina into leaving an area. Try making the can filled with pebbles, as described in the Coyote section.
If you have a persistent problem with javelina call the Arizona Fish and Game Dept. at 602-942-3000.