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Selectman Diane Stadterman Monday night, during a Board of Selectmen meeting, recommended that town officials ask the town's animal control officer and police department about reports they've heard from residents about an increasing coyote and wild dog population in town.
Coyote attacks reportedly are on the increase, Stadertman said.
A bit of a coyote and/or wild dog problem
"I've been hearing from a number of residents that we're having a bit of a coyote and/or wild dog problem," Stadterman said. "What I'm concerned about is the area around , and and Schools."
Because of the recent reports, Stadterman said, she is concerned about the number of children who often travel in wooded areas around Bauer Park and the two schools. The two schools have a path through a wooded area that connect the two campuses.
"Since it's spring time and with pups being born, there is the possibility of possessive mothers," she said. "I do think it's been a problem. We need to see how much of a problem."
Board of Selectmen would like to hear from town residents
Stadterman recommended, and the other board members agreed, that it would make sense for the selectmen to invite the town's animal control officer and police department to report on what they know. Stadterman said she also would like to hear from town residents.
"We should have people come out and tell us their stories," she said.
Selectman Joan Walker and Selectman Joe MacDougald said they have heard reports as well. They also both said they have dogs that have been acting jumpy lately.
Early morning sightings by Race Hill Road and Bradley Corners
"I live next to state forest," Walker said. "I have a coon dog and he's been howling a lot lately."
"Spring is whelping season," Stadterman said.
On the Madison Patch Facebook page, Dyan Salemi reports the presence of a “rather large coyote in the area of Race Hill Road and Bradley Corners.” She said it has been seen in the mornings around 6 or 6:30 a.m. She said some of her neighbors have recognized it and say it has been around that area for years.
Large pack in Clinton
Other towns are experiencing the same issue. Martina Jakober says there is a decent sized pack near where she lives, by the Jared Eliot Middle School on Fairy Dell Road in nearby Clinton. The Eliot school is north of I-95 and east of the Killingworth Turnpike in Clinton.
“I watched them kill a deer a few months ago, right in my back yard!” she said. Jakober used to live in southern Arizona, and she says “the coyotes are a lot larger in New England than out west.” She said the coyotes she has seen in New England seem to be more predatory than their western cousins, who she said seem to be more like scavengers.
Having lived in southern Arizona, Jakober said she’s familiar with having wildlife live nearby. “We had coyotes, javelina [also known as a peccary or a skunk pig] and various snakes in our backyard … In fact I had a Coy dog for 14 years. He was the most intelligent and loyal dog I have ever owned."
Attacks can be territorially driven as coyotes defend their den
Chris Vann, Nuisance Wildlife Biologist, with the Connecticut Wildlife Division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said such an attacks this time of year are sometimes "territorially driven as coyotes defend their den/home territories against other coyotes, foxes, and, unfortunately, domestic dogs." Vann said attacks 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."
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.
Responsible and vigilant pet ownership required now more than ever
Frank Vincenti, director of the Wild Dog Foundation, a coyote education group from New York said the issue often comes down to responsible and vigilant pet ownership.
"Even the best pet owners have lapses of judgement, but we can't fault coyotes for being coyotes, they will force people to be more responsible pet owners," he said via email.
"All of these incidents can be prevented, I've been investigating these things for over 20 years and it is the same over and over again, and coyotes are expanding for sure ... these are all preventable, without trying to eradicate wildlife."
This story was updated Wednesday, April 11, 2012, to add the comments from Facebook readers and from Vincenti.