Over the past few weeks, residents have discussed on East Haven Patch's Facebook page their concerns about coyote sightings throughout town.
But animal control officials say that that is to be expected, as the winter is ending and they are coming out to search for mates and food.
It is very rare for a coyote to attack a person, although it has happened. The best way to avoid that is to not intentionally feed the coyotes, officials say.
Coyotes will feed on dogs and cats, along with other predators. And the best way to avoid any of those problems is to follow these nine steps:
- Do not allow pets to run free! Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, keep small dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times. Use a kennel or a coyote proof fence, an electric fence may keep your dog in the yard, but does not keep predators out. . Coyotes are territorial and may attack and kill larger dogs if given the opportunity, not just because they are hungry
- Never feed coyotes. Do not place food outside for any animals, clean up bird seed under feeders, secure your household garbage
- Always walk your dog on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep your dog under control and calmly leave the area. Do not run or turn your back. Attempt to scare the coyote away by making loud noises (shouting, air horn) and acting aggressively (waving your arms, throwing sticks, spraying with a hose)
- Teach children to recognize coyotes, and go inside the house. Coyotes are not dogs, although cartoons often portray wild animal as cute and friendly, all wildlife should be seen from a distance and children should not interact with any wild animals without direct adult supervision. Children should be taught not to run from coyotes (or any dogs) as this may trigger their prey drive and actually cause them to chase, and since dogs have four legs, while humans have only two, they can usually catch up with us fairly quickly. Children riding a bike who are in danger of being chased by any dog, should not try to ride away, they should be taught to stop and place the bike between them and the dog, using the bike as a shield. Children should be taught to go into the house or climb a tree, swing or deck and yell loudly if they are approached. And as always, tell an adult.
- Close off crawl spaces under decks and sheds. Coyotes and other wildlife may use these areas as a den.
- Be aware of abnormal coyote behavior. Unusually bold behavior, approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, chasing bikes or joggers or stalking children should be reported immediately to the police or animal control.
- Be aware of rabies symptoms. Coyotes are a rabies vector species, watch for any aggression toward people, staggering, seizures or extreme lethargy. Daytime activity in a typically nocturnal animal is not an indication of rabies. Rabies is a neurological disease that affects the brain; the best way I can explain what to look for would be to compare it with “being drunk’. Most people have seen someone who was so drunk that they could not function, they fall down, stagger around or act very aggressively, and these are symptoms in any animal that should be reported immediately.
- Educate your family and neighbors. Ask them to follow these same steps. Much of this information was obtained from the state of Connecticut department of environmental protection. Additional information can be found at www.ct.gov/dep/wildlife.