75-Pound Dog Killed By Coyotes Near Boston Post Road [Updated]

The family asked us to warn others and remind people that even big dogs can fall prey to wild beasts in the densely populated south end of town.


A 75-pound dog was killed Wednesday night by what appears to be a coyote near the Boston Post Road in the south end of town Wednesday night, the owners of the dog say. 

The owners of the dog asked that we post a reminder to people that even large animals in densely populated areas can fall prey to coyotes. 

"Our dog was attacked and killed last night, almost definitely by coyotes," said Kathi Traugh via email. "This is not news (of course), but thought it would be good for people that live nearby to know that there are coyotes out there this spring. He was a big dog (75 lbs) but old, which was probably why they went after him. I live on the Boston Post Rd, right near West Cemetery. So being close to town is no protection." 

Unusual but not unprecedented

Traugh asked that we post the information as a "neighborly heads up."

Chris Vann, Nuisance Wildlife Biologist, with the Connecticut Wildlife Division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said such an attack is unusual but not unprecedented. 

"Coyote attacks on a large dogs, like the one in Madison, are uncommon but have occurred before. These attacks are not predatory but territorially driven as coyotes defend their den/home territories against other coyotes, foxes, and, unfortunately, domestic dogs," Vann said. "An older dog that is unable to defend itself may be more susceptible to attack."

Mating and breeding season could result in territorial disputes

Vann said attacks on dogs may increase during the late winter and spring because it is mating and breeding season.

"Coyotes establish and defend their territories aggressively at this time of year, however, attacks on dogs may occur year round," Vann said.

Most attacks happen at night but pet owners should not put their pets out in the middle of the day, either, Vann said. "Some [attacks] may occur in the middle of the day."

Coyote attacks on dogs becoming a common occurrance

This past February, the Wildlife Division's Hartford Office documented six coyote attacks on dogs, of which five dogs were killed, and one severely injured and put down, Vann said.

"These are likely only a percentage of the total number of attacks occurring around the state. This number is of concern but not necessarily that unusual as coyote attacks on dogs have become a common occurrence in Connecticut over the past 10 plus years," Vann said.

Attacks on dogs appear to be on the rise, Vann said, adding that dog owners should take appropriate precautions.

A six-foot fence is high enough to keep_most_coyotes out

"Dog owners living in areas with coyotes, or in areas where coyotes may travel, should supervise and/or leash their dogs whenever outside, and keep cats indoors. A six-foot fence or kennel is recommended and is considered high enough to prevent most coyotes from jumping or climbing over," Vann said. 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Fact Sheet on coyotes gives the following advice: 

"As coyotes have become more common, public concerns about coyotes attacking pets and people, especially children, have increased. Although some coyotes may exhibit bold behavior near people, the risk of a coyote attacking a person is extremely low. This risk can increase if coyotes are intentionally fed and then learn to associate people with food.

Coyotes will attack and kill pets, especially cats and small dogs (less than 25 pounds). The best way to protect pets is to not allow them to run free. Cats should be kept indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs should be on a leash and under close supervision at all times. The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. In addition, homeowners should eliminate other sources of attraction to coyotes including pet food left outdoors, table scraps on compost piles, and decaying fruit below fruit trees."

But, as Traugh says, even larger dogs, particularly if they are older, can be susceptible to attacks as well. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 7:14 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2012 to add information from Chris Vann. 


Andrew Kaplan March 16, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I am sorry that dogs were lost, but how wonderful that in this modern age that we still have "wild" life in our backyards. My heart swells whenever I see deer or turkeys crossing the road.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 02:45 PM
Upload the pictures to the story, if you have them handy. Would love to see them.
patricia donohue March 16, 2012 at 04:14 PM
my husband most walks our 20lb. shih-tzu on yankee peddler path on a lease and i tell him to be watchful. we've had them in our area but no evidence of them this winter.they can snatch them right off the leash. when i walk him or take him into our backyard, that abuts the highway and had dense tress and ledges, i scope the area before we go farther into the yard and make sure i have good light.
Matt March 16, 2012 at 05:19 PM
If you're walking your dog on a leash down the road, you aren't really going to be in a position of danger. The danger is stumbling into their den or into their pack while wandering around outside the den. This is not something that is going to happen while walking a dog down the road. If the dog runs off-leash into the woods and stumbles upon a den or a pack of coyotes with their young walking around, that could get ugly. If a wandering pack of coyotes happens to stroll through your back yard while the dog is out there running around, that could get ugly. Also, please note that it doesn't have to be a dog. If YOU happen to run into a coyote den while wandering around the woods, they will be just as pissed off at you. They will chase you like mad, it has happened in Madison before. I've never heard of them actually attacking a human. They just chase you until you're long long gone. Now, if you were to stop running before they felt you were far enough away, I don't know what they would do. Most people that this happens to don't stop running to find out.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Matt's right about that. It makes sense to have your dogs on a leash, particularly this time of year, if you are anywhere near a wooded area that could serve as a den.
Amy stef March 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM
in 2008 we lost our yorkie to a coyote off of Neck Rd in the late afternoon. So sad, my thoughts are with the owners, I know their pain, unfortunately
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 06:17 PM
So sorry to hear that, Amy. Thanks for reminding us it can happen during daylight hours too. I live off of Neck Road and we've had sightings on our street during the day, too, last year. We called animal control and they told us to bang pots and pans, and that seemed to work.
Barbara Evans March 16, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I live across the street from golf course and I will be even more cautious of my golden's desire to run the yard in the evening. The main purpose of my comment is to send condolences to the Traughs. Our family is terribly sad for you! We appreciate you trying to help others as an outcome of your tragedy.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Just got an email from someone who said he read this and went home and put his lab inside. Thanks to folks who are sending this to other dog owners to let them know!
Kathi Traugh March 16, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Pem - Thank you so much for a great article and bringing in the experts. And thank you to everyone who has expressed their sympathies. It is deeply appreciated.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 16, 2012 at 09:27 PM
You're welcome Kathi. Thanks to you, and the other dog owners who have contributed to this thread, for letting us know about what's happening and where. Dogs all over Madison might be a little bummed right now about spending more time indoors or on leashes, but they're safer because you did the neighborly thing and let us know.
Danielle March 17, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I walk my dog every morning at Baurer Park around 7:15. Earlier this week, while I was still in the car with my dog, I watched a coyote trot across the field closest to Jeffrey and go into the woods. So many people walk their dogs at Bauer and many of us, while we always have a leash on hand, let our dogs run free. Most of the dogs socialize and play well together, but I would hate for a dog to see a coyote and chase it right into it's den. That could turn tragic. Anyone who visits Bauer Park regularly should be aware. So glad this forum opened up, but so sorry to hear of the losses. My condolences....
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 17, 2012 at 09:59 AM
Thanks for letting us know about Bauer ...
Rosie March 17, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Please, keep your pets indoors or with you always when out! Keep cats inside--they really do adjust to not being out, and not roaming. With well-screened windows and toys to scratch on, they do very well. Also, there was a poor injured racoon (not showing any sign of being Rabid). With tail missing and back left leg hanging useless , limping around the condo properties, just off the Post Road in the Hammonassett area of Madison last evening. I don't know who to inform who might be a Wildlife Rehab. person or organization. Does anyone have an idea?
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 17, 2012 at 02:59 PM
During the week it would the animal control office. Today, I would call dispatch at the PD and let them know, perhaps they have some idea. 203-245-2721. Rosemary, can you let me know that you've had a chance to call and make a specific complaint. Otherwise I can pass the information along.
Rosie March 18, 2012 at 03:46 PM
The injured racoon has not been seen again, and because of that i have not called for any assistance, but will be watching this afternoon and evening.
Donna Farrell March 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM
I have heard many on a regular basis behind our home on Country Way. I only let our dogs out on a leash at night but plan to keep them on a leash by day also now. We have seen them during the day before...once in our driveway. Scary.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 19, 2012 at 09:59 AM
Thanks Rosie.
Gene Bartholomew March 20, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Good advice but dogs have been taken while on leash, coyotes like to attack from behind, people who have been bitten have been from behind, it pays to look all around, the problem with them is they are fearless, whereas wolves do fear us, they're sneaky little bastards, hence the name Wiley.
Gene Bartholomew March 20, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Coyotes like to lure prey, usually one will be visible to your cat or dog, but others are waiting to attack from the sides or behind or both, I really wish people would stop taking their dogs off leash while walking/hiking, for one one of our dogs does not like other dogs and it makes it difficult, plus as a side note whoevers dog is off leash is legally responsible for all damages. Two, I have come across more than one family in the woods walking with a leash while crying, their dog was lured and now its gone, it only takes a second. Coyotes are incredibly smart and devious. We have 2 large dogs and I have them standing right in the woods staring us all down, one even stood on the front step and looked in the house right at me. There was a case about 10 years ago in Arizona where a guy was bringing in groceries so he left the front door open, from the kitchen he heard his 1 year old son crying and when he looked in the living room a coyote had come in and was dragging the kid backwards by his overalls. They are the most extreme opportunists I think there are. Yes, they will go for children and you if they are hungry enough.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 08:41 PM
"In the 1970s, coyote attacks on humans in urban and suburban environments began to occur, primarily in Southern California. Such attacks have increased in number, and since the late 1980s coyote attacks on people have been reported from at least 16 additional states and 4 Canadian provinces. Attack incidents are typically preceded by a sequence of increasingly bold coyote behaviors, including attacks on pets during daylight hours. In suburban areas, coyotes can habituate to humans as a result of plentiful food resources, including increased numbers of rabbits and rodents, household refuse, pet food, water from ponds and landscape irrigation run-off, and intentional feeding. Cessation of predator control has also contributed to coyotes’ loss of wariness toward humans. Preventive (e.g., habitat modification) and corrective actions (e.g., hazing) can be effective if implemented before coyote attacks on pets become common. However, if environmental modification and changes in human behavior toward coyotes are delayed, then removal of offending coyotes is needed to resolve threats to human safety. Coyote attacks on humans in suburbia are largely preventable, but the long-term solution of this conflict requires public education, changes in residents’ behavior, and in some situations, the means to effectively remove individual offending animals." Proceedings, 11th Triennial National Wildlife & Fisheries , Extension Specialists Conference, Oct 2006, Big Sky, MT
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I wonder if that's also true of Connecticut coyotes? Are Connecticut coyotes the same as California coyotes? Source for above citation posted as a PDF with this article.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Apparently 19 different subspecies of coyote have been identified, but some scientists "dispute the taxonomic validity" of that breakdown. It seems that (from a quick read of the material) that east coast coyotes might be a little smaller than their west coast counterparts, tho I'm not certain of that. I'll check with our wildlife nuisance guy.
Gene Bartholomew March 20, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I'm no expert but I like to do research. I think many of the subspecies as "intermingles" with domesticated dogs. Its been said that all coyotes came from the west and I agree, I think there are variances in any species so the entire premise of a subspecies may be in error. They're opportunists, if they have to work for food they'll get a squirrel, etc, if they can they'll take whatever they can, whatever is easier. They are also said to be the most adaptable animal and they may be adapting to us and they already don't fear us. The other night my wife had one jump into the road and run alongside the drivers door as she went down the street, talk about fearless. Best thing for cat owners is to get an enclosure, like for birds. Unfortunately they are here to stay, if the DEP did introduce them as many people claimed in the 80's well damn them because they should re-introduced the wolf, wolves don't have all of the issues, some, but they do not attack humans. I was at a farm in the late 80s and the owner told me he shot one that was going after his chickens and that he called the DEP because at the time they were just showing up and the DEP was denying their existence (like now with the Mountain Lion), he said the coyote was tattooed for tracking. There are people elsewhere suggesting this dog may have been killed by a Mountain Lion, the wounds would tell, neck wound = lion, tore up all over = coyotes.
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 20, 2012 at 09:38 PM
True that wolves appear to be one of the few predators of the coyote. Where do you live, what town?
Gene Bartholomew March 20, 2012 at 09:39 PM
The rumor was that DEP introduced them to control the deer population, if they did they did so in error. Watch the movie or read the book, Never Cry Wolf, predators make a herd of deer or caribou heartier and stronger, and they mainly eat small prey, its rare they get a deer cept the young and old or weak. Its man that kills the herd by taking the trophy's, the healthiest, and biggest. Given the number of coyotes in Ct if their notion was correct the deer would have been irradicated in 2001 if not sooner, they just don't eat that many deer.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Coyotes have been here since at least the 80's when DEP had to acknowledge that, they did the same thing with the coyotes and bears that they now do with mountain lions, deny their existence. People have been reporting mountain lions on the east coast since the 1990's, sigtings in CT rose in the 2000's and still they deny, claiming the one killed on the highway is the one everyone saw everywhere, I have a bridge for sale if you buy into that. I was kind of surprised to see this story on many different Patches but all the comments are different from each area, it would have been nice to have them all together while being on all Patch pages, not sure if the system can do that, I picked this up off the Haddam one and then noticed the article repeated. It would be nice to know more info like was the dog found or not, were the wounds examined by someone in the know? Also I think everyone should start familiarizing themselves with wildlife in the area, particularly coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions, check pictures and sizes so that you know what you are looking at, wolves are much bigger and taller than a coyote, mountian lions can be confused with bobcats if you don't know the difference and this makes sightings credible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_wolf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar
Pem McNerney (Editor) March 21, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Thanks for all the great info and links. You ask an interesting question about repeating the story across Patch sites in different towns. Sometimes we cross post, which means the same story appears and comments on each Patch appear on all Patches. Other times individual sites clone the article, which means the comments on that article show up only on that Patch. Some readers are annoyed by comments from other towns, and want town-specific comments only. But I see your point that on stories like this, it would be very interesting to see what people in other towns are saying about their critter situation. I believe the dog was found. If I'm able to find out any more, I will let you know. Again, thanks for all of the interesting information.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
What caught my eye was the statement "almost definitely by coyotes". Like I say coyotes attack from behind and all sides so there would be bites all over, mountain lions generally attack from above pouncing and grab the neck so there might be some claw marks and a neck wound. Authorities would be cautious to claim a ML attack because of the panic in a community and DEEP doesn't want anyone claiming anything about ML's. They've already determined there was just one after everyone has been calling them for 10 years and they denied their existence. What the Milford cat and its dna actually proves is what their migration paths are and that they can come this far, ML's in the Dakotas came from the west and as they populate there they are again heading east and there is plenty of deer here to support them.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 02:09 PM
this site has many listed sightings, but unfortunately lacks credible evidence, like pictures and scat, so you be the judge http://ctmountainlion.org/


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