Russ and Tiña De Maris
Last week we talked a bit about one of the big fears of Quartzsite newbies—scorpions. The fear factor ranks right up there with concerns about rattlesnakes. Since rattlers are pretty dormant at this time of the year, we thought we’d raise awareness about another desert dweller that’s quite active now. That would be the Quartzsite coyote, Canis latrans.
Don’t believe everything you see in the cartoons
After watching a few-too-many Looney Tunes cartoons, one might think only roadrunners have anything to fear from coyotes. Think again. While coyote-takes-on-human encounters are pretty rare, Quartzsite coyotes look forward to winter visitors. It seems some (read that: far too many) visitors think that feeding the coyotes is a good thing. Wrong thinking!
Left to themselves, coyote diets consist mainly of rabbits, mice, an occasional baby mountain sheep, and plenty of ground squirrels. They’ll also eat bugs, fruits and vegetables. But as Quartzsite is overrun with snowbirds, the old “trickster” coyote has learned other “goodies” are associated with winter visitors. If you feed the coyote, he becomes less afraid of you. With the decrease in fear, his interest in other things that accompany humans (aside from handouts) increases. Fluffy and Fido can suddenly appear quite appetizing on the menu.
The other night, on the north end of town, we heard the plaintive yips and calls of Quartzsite coyotes. Quite likely they were calls to our neighbors’ dogs to “come on out and play!” Every year, household dogs make the mistake of listening to the siren call. Once they fall into the group of their wild cousins, that’s often the end of the tale. There are plenty of rumors that usually go something like this: “Yep, we found a coyote den, and inside we found all kinds of dog collars!” Well, just how true these stories are is questionable. But dogs and cats do make the menu every winter season.
What’s to be done? For dogs and cats, leashlessness is an open invitation to Wile E. Coyote’s relatives to dive in for a feast. Trusted sources (park rangers) report occurrences of coyotes actually taking on-leashed pets when their owners have had them out for a walk. This doesn’t mean you should be fearful of taking your leashed pet for a walk. But since coyotes are more active after nightfall, you’re safer walking them by day. And Canis latrans are still a bit more fearful of crowds, so your chances of a safe walk are better in an area crowded with humans, rather than out on a desert trail.
If you should be walking your pet and spot a Quartzsite coyote, reel that pet up to you immediately. If it’s a small animal you can gather in your arms, by all means, do so. The key to dealing with a coyote is to be the dominant force. Keep good eye contact. Make plenty of noise. Some folks carry a whistle, and a blast or two may deter your unwelcome friend. Don’t run, but move slowly toward “civilization.”
And for Pete’s sake, DON’T FEED WILDLIFE. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders already—they don’t need encouragement to feast on whatever humans might have handy. Locals will thank you too. Year-round two-legged residents report that after the snowbirds leave, otherwise cautious coyotes more often frequent their yards, making life a bit on the scary side.
Some of you have shared your experiences, and your hopes, about snowbirding in Quartzsite. Here’s a handful.
Greg M. wrote that his first Quartzsite experience was back in 1990. “And for the last 22 years, every year. Enjoy kicking back, and dry camping is always fun.” We can only say, the 2021-2022 season has proved to be a big one for kicking back. BLM lands are “busting at the seams” and local RV parks, by-and-large, are having a good year.
“Arrived in the Q (Quartzsite) late September, ahead of schedule due to wildfire closure of National Parks,” reports Nick S. “Very hot then, crazy cold now. The small town has few restaurants, and supermarkets. Walmarts are 20-40+ miles away. Cell signal is strong but bandwidth is nonexistant in LaPosa South.” Sorry, Nick, but that’s the story everywhere in the area. Internet connectivity will improve—when the crowds clear out. But Nick had some good news: “Occasional strong winds and plenty of sun for solar, otherwise rocky and inhospitable terrain in the LTVAs.”
Some were a bit more cautious in their approach to Quartzsite—or lack thereof. Gary N. observed, “We may skip QZ this year. Omicron, y’know.” He added in a later comment, “I’m as tired of this as anyone. I DO have faith in the public health agencies tasked with protecting our health by providing educated guidance. The forecast is that this surge will continue thru January. That’s bad timing for us. Stay safe.” We can only add, take precautions. Wear a good mask, keep the distance up and, yes, STAY SAFE.
The weekly statistics
How many folks in Quartzsite? It’s impossible to accurately gauge. We’re using the census count from the Hi Jolly Short Term Visitor Area as a gauge.
|Last Week||This Week||Change|
Fuel Costs (Average)
|Last Week||This Week||Change|
Best price, $3.449 Loves
Best price, $3.929 Chevron on Main Street
Best price, Pattie’s RV Park at $2.73. Worst, RV Pit Stop $3.00)
|Last Week||This week|
|Verizon Mobile||1.12D/1.30U 1:49 PM
0.26D/2.06U 7:04 PM
|2.06D/1.26 U 12:37 PM
FAILED three attempts. 9:06PM
|ATT Mobile||4.77D/3.86U 1:49 PM
0.85D/2.81U 7:04 PM
|1.98D/3.45U 12:37 PM
0.33D/0.87U 9:06 PM
As we mentioned above, we anticipate things will slowly improve. If history is any indicator, this is probably the worst that internet speeds will get this season. For whatever reason, it seems the carriers just can’t get it through their corporate heads to plan ahead for the influx. In the past we have complained long and hard, and, in the end, usually gotten an adjustment on our bill. It doesn’t make virtually non-existent connections any easier to cope with, but it might feel a little better!
Our “face mask count” is based on numbers of folks at three locations: a popular grocery store, the post office, and a “dollar store.” The count is the total number of folks present and those who are masked up. The percentage given is the percentage of mask-wearers. We are changing our COVID patient count methodology. We’re including new cases within the last week, and comparing the percentage of change from two weeks back. The data is provided by the Arizona Department of Health.
Face Mask Count [Total people counted/masked (% masked)]
|Last Week||This Week|
|116/27 (23.3%)||110/29 (26.4)|
COVID Patient Count
Our statistics are from the Arizona Department of Health, as presented by Arizona Central. They are:
Quartzsite average daily cases in last week: 3
Quartzsite average cases per 10,000 people: 7 (week prior: 10)
Change in number of cases from two weeks ago: 62% higher
Number of Quartzsite coyotes observed wearing masks: 0
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