LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – The City of Henderson recently put out a warning on the police department’s Facebook page, telling people not to feed wildlife. The city’s Animal Control Administrator tells FOX5 coyotes have bitten four people in the last three months, including two incidents in January. The Nevada Department of Wildlife tells FOX5 a coyote bit a little girl outside the Lake Las Vegas Village grocery store. And another coyote bit a woman from Wyoming who was on a bench in the village.
“For people that frequent that area or live up there, or even people that don’t frequent that area and just go up there for lunch or dinner or something and they sit out, they have no idea. They might just be nicely viewing, thinking they’re viewing the wildlife and it just walks right up to them which was one of the incidents of one of the bites. The person really had no idea the coyote was going to approach them and be that close that quickly,” said Henderson Animal Control Administrator Danielle Harney.
Harney says the problem is the result of people feeding the coyotes. FOX5 obtained video showing a woman feeding coyotes on the road that leads down to the village. Harney says coyotes are losing fear of humans because of their close contact with people feeding them.
“These are wild animals. When they’re used to getting fed and not getting what they want they will bite people,” said Harney.
Harney says some people have dropped food for animals to find, along with those feeding them close up. She says this is a public health concern because coyotes can carry rabies.
“It is an almost 100% fatal disease in people when they don’t have a vaccine and aren’t treated right away from a positive exposure. It causes neurologic issues in animals as well too,” said Harney.
Nevada Department of Wildlife officials say 10 coyotes have been euthanized after they were coming in for food at a specific time. Officials weren’t sure of the exact number of coyotes that were tested for rabies but said none of the samples came back positive. They also tell FOX5 they have heard of three cases of people being bitten, with one case unsubstantiated.
The Operations Manager of the Village of Lake Las Vegas is also advising people not to feed coyotes. The city of Henderson says it is now considering enforcing and citing people who ignore warnings to not feed the animals. People can be fined more than $600.
The city says the victims were either bitten on their legs or hands and the injuries were not life-threatening.
Harney says if a coyote approaches, people should haze it by yelling or throwing rocks at it. She says it’s also a good idea to carry an umbrella to appear larger. And place the umbrella in between you and a coyote. She says people can use pepper spray if they feel they need to but says to keep an eye on others around you so they aren’t sprayed.
If a coyote is very aggressive, you can call the Department of Wildlife’s dispatch center at (775) 688-1331.
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