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A young girl was treated and released from a hospital after being bitten by a coyote at a Scottsdale park, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

The 5-year-old girl was bitten in the thigh while playing Tuesday night at Thompson Peak Park with her mother and two younger siblings.

She had been sitting at the edge of a slide with a granola bar in her hand, unaware that a coyote was resting in the shade underneath, officials said.

“There’s no way for us to speculate on whether that (the granola bar) had anything to do with the bite, but it’s definitely something for people to be aware of,” said Amy Burnett, a Game and Fish spokeswoman.

The girl did not need stitches and was released from the hospital after undergoing precautionary treatment for rabies, Burnett said. 

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Game and Fish employees killed a coyote they found in the park near Loop 101 and Hayden Road on Tuesday night, and Burnett said that she received word from a contractor with Game and Fish that a second coyote had been removed from the area Wednesday morning.

“Witnesses said they’ve seen up to three coyotes … in the vicinity of the park,” Burnett said.

Given the unusual behavior of the coyote approaching humans, Burnett said, there is a high chance that it was being fed in the neighborhood. 

“Fed coyotes become accustomed to people,” she said. “They come around a little too close, they become bold, and it can sometimes lead to a situation where animals and humans interact negatively, and it’s a good reminder for everyone not to feed wildlife.”

Though it is not uncommon for coyotes to be in the area because of its close proximity to open space, human behavior could keep them coming around more often, Burnett said. 

Several factors in the urban area, including the water, grass and access to food in the park area invite coyotes to approach humans and creates this cycle where coyotes view humans as a good thing.

“The best thing to do is to leave them wild,” Burnett said. “When you feed them, you’re changing their behavior, and they’re no longer the animals you want to see in our desert roaming free. It never works out well for the people or for the animals.”


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