March 29, 2017

Op-Ed: Coyotes in Town, Be Vigilant, Learn How To Respond

coyoteOur thanks to Joan Bozek of Old Lyme for sharing this important information with LymeLine readers.

My 55-pound yellow Lab, Holly, was charged by two coyotes at 9 a.m. yesterday morning. We were on our daily walk at the junction of the Lord’s Meadow and Lord’s Woods subdivisions in northern Old Lyme when the coyotes charged across the lawn of one of the houses onto the street. Holly was about 50 feet behind both my other, 65-pound Lab and me when the coyotes tried to circle and attack. Fortunately, I knew how to scare them away, and my Labs were not harmed. It was terrifying.

The DEEP responded that the pair was likely out hunting food for their pups and saw my dog as a threat to a nearby den. It is the time of year when coyotes will be more aggressive protecting their young. Still, it was clear to me from the way the pair approached my dog that they meant to do real harm.

The Old Lyme Animal Control officer, Lynn, reports that predator wildlife attacks have become much more common and devastating to our pets. More than 30 cats are missing this year. She told me that coyotes have even attacked a dog on leash. A bobcat the size of a medium dog has been spotted in the Jericho neighborhood. And the fisher cats are particularly brutal. And, these attacks are not limited to evenings and night time.

Both the DEEP and Lynn passed along these tips for staying safe:

  • Know how to scare away predators. Generally, make a lot of low pitched threatening noise and do your best to look really big and threatening to them! It worked for me.
  • Keep your dogs on leash always, particularly at this time of year. In my case, once the coyotes backed off on their attack, Holly, who was not on leash, began to chase one of them! Fortunately, she heard the terror in my voice and stopped on command (this time).
  • Do not leave dogs unattended outside behind electric fences! Both the DEEP and Lynn were adamant on this. Small dogs particularly are easy prey. As I discovered, coyotes have grown bold enough to be around houses and out in the open.
  • Cats are not safe outside. Since even fisher cats are hunting in daylight, outdoor cats are easy prey.
  • Finally, report any incident to our animal control office and to DEEP. They are looking for patterns and true dangers. And they want to stop problems before they escalate into human interactions.

I enjoy living in the woods and respect wildlife. But I want my doggies — my family — safe and comfortable outdoors with me. So please be vigilant and careful.

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