Coyotes, mountain lions can pose a threat to area residents

Unlike the cartoon in which a dimwitted coyote is outsmarted by a roadrunner, in reality it is the coyote that is intelligent enough to reside within a stone's throw of civilization.

In some areas, Coyotes in large packs are known to play tag-team in stalking prey, especially cats or small dogs.

They are known to send a smaller, scrawny member of the pack, possibly an older pup, to lure an unsuspecting dog away from a home or yard, while the rest of the pack lies in wait.

Another trick the pack would use is to have a female coyote in heat lure a family dog out of the backyard and into their trap.

But in Mohave County, packs of three or more coyotes are rare, Arizona Department of Game and Fish Information Manager Dave Boyd said.

One reason for the small number is that food is scare in the local desert.

But coyotes can be a problem when people leave food out for quail or other birds in their backyards, which attract the predator.

Dog owners leaving out food or water out could also bring a coyote into the backyard.

"The first thing to do is to remove the food, water, shelter source," Boyd said.

"Also don't leave garbage around.

Coyotes actually don't want to hang around people."

If that doesn't solve the problem, live traps can be checked out from Game and Fish to trap the animal and relocate it, Boyd said.

Coyotes will feed on rabbit-size food so cats and small dogs are at risk.

Attacks on humans are rare, but last year two children in Lake Havasu City were bitten by coyotes when they found a den, he said.

Several weeks ago near Phoenix, an infant was nearly dragged away by a coyote right out of a home.

Authorities blamed the attack on the homeowners who had been feeding the animal, he said.

In Kingman, coyotes are known to live in islands of desert within the city.

Coyotes are also known to hang out near golf courses, since many courses have small ponds or lakes as a handy water source for the pack and for prey animals, Boyd said.

Boyd recommends keeping family pets inside the home, especially during the night when coyotes are hunting.

The predators are commonly seen during early morning and late evening hours.

Coyotes, which only weigh about 30 pounds, will not attack a larger dog, but a mountain lion will, he said.

Mountain lion attacks are extremely rare in the county.

In the Hualapai Mountains last year, there was a problem with the big cats but only because people started feeding elk and deer, the lions' primary food source, he said.

"You didn't have a lion problem, you have a deer feeding problem," Boyd said.

If you encounter a mountain lion, don't run.

Stop or slowly back away, always facing the animal.

Make yourself look bigger without acting in a threatening manner.

If a lion does attack, fight back.

Throw rocks or branches, whatever is handy.

Hikers should walk in groups in mountainous areas, Boyd said.

"You'd be extremely lucky to even see a mountain lion," Boyd said.

"Even specialists in the field rarely see them."

Cattle ranchers in the county also rarely have a problem with coyotes, since one or two coyotes would not attack cattle.

The only problem could be coyotes nipping at calves, Boyd said.