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Why coyotes are being spotted in the Las Vegas valley

By Sean DeLancey,


A pack of coyotes caught on video roaming the area around Sunset Park, just a few hundred feet from Harry Reid International Airport in the middle of the Las Vegas valley, set some people on edge Wednesday night.

Norman Coles was behind the camera, and said he wasn't used to seeing so many of the creatures so close to his home.

"Like they owned the streets," Coles said. "They hung out at Albertsons for awhile. They waited for each other before they got back together and then they ran through the gas station."

Coles said he worried for his family and pets in the neighborhood.

"It's nerve racking. It's scary, you know? I told my wife, no more walking around at night. When the sun goes down, you're down."

Nevada Department of Wildlife Conservation Education Supervisor Doug Nielsen said coyote spottings haven't been uncommon.

"They've always been here," he said Nielsen said. "They're probably going to outlast us."

He said humans building into coyote territory is one reason they enter urban areas, but it's not the only reason.

"The other factor that we need to consider is 23 years of drought," Nielsen said.

He said the coyotes follow prey, and prey goes to where their food, vegetation, grows.

Decades of drought has left the outskirts of town largely barren, Nielsen said, and that has driven coyote prey like mice, rats, and rabbits to well watered lawns.

"You can't build one without the other," he said. "You can't pick who you invite to dinner, so to speak."

Nielsen said it will take several water cycles like the recent heavy summer monsoon and this wet winter to build up vegetation outside the valley giving prey reason to leave the city and coyotes a reason to follow them.

Until then, Coles said he wanted the county to improve lighting in his neighborhood and that he'd stay on guard.

"Cause we're from New York. We don't know what to do. To me they're dogs with no leash, and they're hungry," he said.

Nielsen said coyotes normally don't want anything to do with humans.

He said to deter them people should keep their yards clean, never leave out food, and he encouraged people to scare the animals away by repeatedly honking their car horns, yelling at them, or making them uncomfortable until they find somewhere else to call home.

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