Originally published Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 10:13a.m.

LAKE HAVASU, Ariz. — As Lake Havasu City enters its cooler months, coyote sightings could become more common during daylight hours.

Although the region’s coyotes remain active year-round, they remain nocturnal predators during the summer months. But as the weather becomes colder, coyotes will become more visible as they begin to search for food throughout the daylight hours, according to Lake Havasu City Animal Control officer Chris Lutgen. From August through September, the Lake Havasu City Police Department has received 25 calls for service regarding coyotes.

“Coyotes are a danger to both residents and pets since they are susceptible to, and can carry or transmit infectious diseases to dogs and cats,” Lutgen said. “Small pets, such as small-breed dogs and cats, are typically hunted for food. Small animals left unattended can be attractive to coyotes.”

According to Lutgen, Havasu residents shouldn’t assume that a high fence will provide protection from trespassing coyotes — they have been reported to jump over fences as high as seven feet while searching for water, shelter or potential prey.

The Western Arizona Humane Society offers care and cremation services for deceased animals, and Executive Director Patty Gillmore has more than once seen family pets killed by coyotes in Havasu.

“It’s not a pretty sight at all,” Gillmore said. “A lot of people don’t watch their dogs. I’ve seen people walk their dogs through washes — the same routes the coyotes take. I’ve had a few people who have run through our door, screaming, because a coyote got their animal. Sometimes we have a veterinarian on staff, and we can save them … but sometimes, if there isn’t one here, we’ve lost them.”

According to Gillmore, even medium-sized dogs can also be at risk from coyotes. “Coyotes are so smart,” Gillmore said. “One coyote will often draw a dog out, and before you know it, there are many more of them.”

To protect pets, property and Havasu residents from potential harm, Lutgen suggests cleaning pet feces regularly, and periodically washing backyards or patios with diluted bleach to eliminate scents left behind by pets.

According to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, coyotes are natural opportunists, and will take advantage of any food source. Yards with abundant fruit on the ground, pet food, unsecured garbage cans and unattended pets are seen as easy food sources. A pet’s water bowl, a swimming pool or fountains can also be attractive to coyotes. Coyotes will also return to the same area if such resources remain in abundance.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and the Lake Havasu City Police Department advise against feeding coyotes. Under Lake Havasu City statute, any person who intentionally feeds a coyote could face fines of as much as $1,000, and may be sentenced to no more than 10 days in jail.

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