A man from Sahuarita had to get rabies shots on Wednesday because a coatimundi he was giving food to bit him. This was told by Mark Hart, a spokesperson from the Arizona Game and Fish.
“It’s strange that on a day when we were talking a lot about how it’s not safe to feed wildlife, someone got bitten by a coatimundi they were feeding,” said Hart.
This happened on Wednesday in the 2300 block of South Santa Rita Road. On the same day, a woman died from what seemed to be an elk attack in the Pine Lake community, which is about 15 miles southeast of Kingman in the Hualapai Mountains.
The man was bitten by the coatimundi on his right index finger. Even though the bite didn’t break the skin, the man had contact with the animal’s saliva, so he needed rabies shots. He went to Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, and the hospital told Pima County Animal Control, which then informed Game and Fish.
The man had been feeding several coatimundis in that area, which is against the law, according to Hart.
“They look cute, like raccoons, but they are considered predators and can be dangerous,” said Hart.
Game and Fish has been telling people about the risks of feeding wildlife, and they will be doing it even more now.
“If you keep feeding wildlife, they get used to people and become more bold,” Hart added.
The coatimundis won’t be moved, and the man won’t be punished because the bite was probably punishment enough, said Hart.
“If people stop feeding them, they will go away,” he assured.
He also mentioned that they won’t go hungry because they are good at surviving in the wild. The real issue is people who feed them, according to Hart.
Feeding animals is a big reason why there are problems between humans and wildlife, according to the Department. In 2015, two children got minor injuries when an elk approached a picnic table where their family was eating in the Hualapai Mountains. In 2021, an adult woman was seriously injured by an elk that had become used to people in Pine.