LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Park officials are reminding people not to feed wildlife after a coyote was killed on Christmas Day in Death Valley.
The coyote was struck and killed by a car in one of the park’s most popular areas, along Badwater Road near Golden Canyon, just south of Furnace Creek Inn.
The coyote had been begging for food along the road, park officials said in a news release.
“We tried hazing it away from the road by shooting it with a paintball gun and pepper spray,” Superintendent Mike Reynolds said. “The only thing the coyote learned was to stay away from park rangers!”
Coyotes are clever, and no stranger to working tourists who come to Death Valley National Park. A 2016 account tells the story of “The Coyote Who Learned to Stop Traffic” on roads around the park.
It is illegal to feed wildlife within the park.
“Feeding wildlife often later causes that animal’s death,” according to the Friday news release. “Wildlife that have been fed by people learn to cross roads when they see a car coming. They learn that this behavior sometimes triggers the car to stop and feed them.”
Earlier this week, park officials posted a photo of a tarantula on its social media pages, warning drivers to watch for wildlife on park roads. Summer floods completely closed the park for about two months, with roads washed out by rains that came from the remnants of Hurricane Hilary.
The park advised drivers to watch for tarantulas, desert tortoises, kit foxes and bighorn sheep that “have become accustomed to fewer vehicles in the park and may not be as cautious when crossing roads.”
On Christmas weekend, the park experienced a 65-hour power outage that began Saturday afternoon. The outage knocked out cell phone service and caused problems with water supplies for emergencies before power was restored Tuesday morning.