While driving up Easy Street shortly before 11 a.m. Feb. 21, I saw a coyote running in a frenzied manner toward me. Suspecting that it might be rabid, I followed as it turned down Carefree Circle, hoping for a closer look. When it disappeared between houses, I hurried home and telephoned the Payson Police Department. I spoke with Animal Control Officer Bonnie Davis, who said, "You should have called (the Arizona Game and Fish Department)."
(Davis said her truck wasn't running, but she'd go and check the report out.)
I then tried to phone game and fish. There are three 800 numbers in the blue section of the 2000/2001 U.S. West Directory under the Payson listings (for game and fish). I telephoned the first listing and got a recording.
I then telephoned Payson Elementary School and reported to the secretary that there was a frenzied coyote running about in the area, and I indicated my suspicion regarding rabies. I asked that she inform the principal so that the children might be safeguarded.
The school secretary then gave me the number of the U.S. Forest Service and suggested I call them for game and fish. The Forest Service gave me the number of game and fish in Phoenix and asked that I call there.
"I'm not going to call a toll number to report this," I said. "Please report it to the nearest game and fish office."
Well, Phoenix is the closest office, she said, and, no, she would not report it. That is not her job.
What are we to do when we see a wild animal in town that we suspect is rabid? Are we to arm ourselves and shoot the beast, and then be prepared to suffer the consequences for having discharged a firearm in town?
Carole Mathewson, Payson
Editor's note: According to Davis, residents who spot a wild animal that they suspect is rabid should call the Arizona Game and Fish Department's local office at 474-2264 and leave a message. If the animal is spotted within town limits, they also can call the Payson Animal Control Department at 474-5177.
"If we suspect the animal is rabid," Davis said, "an officer will shoot it. Otherwise, we'll simply chase the animal out of the area. We're not trained to capture wildlife."
Suspected rabid animals spotted in the county can be reported to the Gila County Animal Control Department at 474-1210.