SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Aztec Park near Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Thunderbird Road is a Saturday stop for the Miaso Family.
But over the past weekend, their usual Saturday visit to the playground came to a stop.
“I remember Zeke came down the slide and came behind me and was kind of going back up to do the steps to go to the slide again,” father Curt Miaso recalls. “At the time, I remember my 5-year-old daughter yelling out, ‘coyote! coyote!'”
Miaso then remembers spotting his 1-year-old son, Zeke, who’s set to be two in June, about 10 feet away from him.
“He was face-to-face with a coyote,” Miaso said.
That’s when Miaso said he picked up his son and he and a couple other guys worked to scare away the coyote. Miaso remembers looking over Zeke and unzipping his onesie to find scratch marks on his son’s stomach and chest.
“Obviously this is something we got to treat,” Miaso said. “Want to make sure he’s okay.”
Miaso said Zeke started rabies treatment at Phoenix Children’s on Saturday, he’ll continue to have shots over the next several days. Zeke is expected to be completely fine.
“There’s a lot of, you know, thoughts, or more the worst case that could have happened,” Miaso said.
While Miaso said he was born and raised in Scottsdale, he hasn’t seen a coyote that close and at that time of day before.
“It was 10 a.m., pretty crowded park, a lot of cars, people playing tennis, a baseball game,” Miaso said.
Still, Miaso wanted others to be aware of what happened to his family.
“I wanted to let everyone know that hey, this is not normal,” Miaso said. “I think for a lot of people there's a normal acceptance of what wildlife is and you know, managing your pets your dogs and kind of what you're doing. I wanted to make sure people were aware of what was going on.”
Darren Julian, an Urban Wildlife Specialist with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, agrees that this coyote’s behavior wasn’t normal.
“It’s very concerning,” Julian said. “When coyotes cross the line and are aggressive towards people, our only recourse at this point is to do coyote removal.”
Julian said that’s lethal removal of the animal and to check for rabies.
The last time Julian can remember something similar was in 2017, and said it’s not common. As for why it happens though, it’s not immediately clear, the coyote could have been sick or injured or could have been fed by people, Julian said.
“It’s likely that this coyote has been fed by people,” Julian said. “I've told people that there's bad feeding, and there's terrible feeding. The terrible feeding is when that coyote is approaching people and they're getting that reward. And they're going to come approach different people and you know, usually when they don't get fed, is when they'll reach out and bite someone or scratch somebody.”
Feeding coyotes is illegal in Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties, and Julian said it’s much better to discourage them instead.
“Make them know that we are at least a potential threat, and if we're pushing back and chasing coyotes, and being aggressive towards them, we won't see these kinds of issues,” Julian said.
Julian added if anyone has seen someone feeding coyotes, especially in this area, they can contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 1-800-352-0700.
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