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Don’t fear coyotes; learn how to co-exist with them

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To the Editor,

The West Norwalk Association is receiving calls about the recent and frequent sightings of coyotes, especially in regard to the lockdown of Ponus Ridge School. Our Board was provided information from a veterinarian and Director of Wildlife Crisis Center in Wilton. He works with and is licensed by the CT Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He has given us important information which may alleviate the fears of people who have stereotypes and misinformation on coyotes in general.

Briefly, coyotes are wild dogs, intelligent and social. They are out during daylight because they are adapting to the suburban habitat and are curious.  They primarily eat mice, and single coyotes have rarely attacked people, because it is easier to hunt a small mouse than a person.  Coyotes will fix their eyes or stare at people from a distance, again they are curious. It does not mean they will attack, but you should keep your distance. The wooded habitat of the coyotes is being destroyed, so they are probably here to stay and should be welcomed for their contribution to the ecosystem.

Because the residents feel frightened, we have an informative, but harmless method to keep the coyotes from becoming too social and close to humans.  This method is easy. It is called hazing. A person simply has to loudly clap hands, jump up and down, make a loud noise and face the coyote. You do not need to run away.  More details can be found on this link.

Hopefully, our research and articles will calm the residents’ fears by giving them pertinent information. This is wildlife trying to adapt to suburban habitat and we will certainly see more of them as time goes by and should learn to live with them. We have informed the mayor of Norwalk, who appreciated the facts and passed along this letter to the Animal Control Department of Norwalk.

We will have more information on our website.

Thank you.

Linda Forcellina and Gay MacLeod

WNA Co-presidents

Comments

7 responses to “Don’t fear coyotes; learn how to co-exist with them”

  1. Suzanne

    Coyotes will eat free-range chickens. It is best to keep hens in a movable “chicken ark” or secure in a coop.

  2. PNolin

    Not sure this letter accurately states the risks. Coyotes are closer to wolves then they are to dogs. They don’t just live on mice. They often hunt in groups of two or more and in such groups can easily kill dear. All small pets (under 25 pounds) are at risk. It would be smart to treat these predators with caution.

    More complete information at:
    http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2723&q=325992
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote

    1. Mark Chapman

      @PNolin

      You are spot on. We lived on Cape Cod for many years and the coyote population there exploded. In Hyannis, roving packs of the animals resembled 4-footed street gangs. They often preyed on cats and small dogs, and there were a few isolated attacks on people, usually by sick animals.

      One night, halfway through our round-the-block dog walk, we heard the eerie sounds of the pack howling, but instead of coming from nearby woods as usually, it came from our neighborhood. As we had several indoor/outdoor cats, we hustled home and found 4 coyotes hunting in our yard. They left; the one cat who had gone out despite our efforts (tried keeping them in at night) showed up totally spooked a short while later. Our cats became indoor only and have been ever since.

  3. Gordon Tully

    Besides eating cats and small dogs, coyotes kill foxes, who are much more effective at holding down the population of mice, which carry Lyme disease.

  4. Joe

    We don’t like CT Department of Environmental Protection biologists artificially propagating and/or encouraging populations of predators like coyotes, hawks, foxes and even bears into our residential neighborhoods, with our tax dollars no less.

    Where do you think all these squished turkeys on the Post Road and Merritt come from?

    Did you see the recent video of the top CT bear biologist trying to calm the mother who was afraid of seeing bears close to her backyard where her kids play. I think it was in the Danbury.

    We used to hang out in the woods all the time when we were kids. We didn’t have to worry about bears in the woods back then. And we didn’t have to worry about lions and tiger and ticks neither.

  5. EastNorwalkChick

    East Norwalk, near the Westport line, had had a problem with coyotes too, though I haven’t heard anything lately on the issue. A couple of years back several residents lost their cats to them and I know of one small dog that was attacked.

    I had one jump over my fence one evening at dusk around that time, only to be confronted by my dog who was twice his size and weight, he jumped back over the fence as quick as he could and high tailed it out of there. At first I thought it was an emaciated dog that had gone feral, then I realized from the talk in the neighborhood that it was a coyote. Never saw one since that incident…

  6. Sarah Mann

    Last month we had three in our yard. They woke us up barking at about 4am one morning and again the next night around midnight. We live in East Norwalk on the Westport border. I notified our immediate neighbors (those that have dogs) and animal control because they like to keep track of where the coyotes are sighted.

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