PLAINVILLE - After several residents reported seeing coyotes in their neighborhoods on the Facebook group “Plainville Talks” this week, Plainville Animal Control Officer Donna Weinhofer has offered advice for how to avoid problems with the animals.
Weinhofer said that she recently attended an adult education class at Plainville High School to further educate herself about the animals, which she said has been spotted in Plainville since the 1950s.
“I saw one near the pound about a month ago and I’ve been seeing evidence of them when I’m out walking my dog,” said Weinhofer. “Their droppings are similar to that which is left by dogs except that it has fur in it because they eat small mammals.”
Weinhofer said that coyotes aren’t native to Connecticut, but came to the area after the state started to re-grow much of its forested areas instead of having farmland everywhere.
“These Eastern Coyotes are larger than the ones you would find in Arizona,” she said. “They look like small German shepherds and weigh 30 to 50 pounds. They are very fast, running at 25 to 30 miles per hour or sometimes faster. They can outrun humans. If you encounter them, I recommend that you holler and make yourself look larger. Don’t run from them - back away slowly and keep your eyes on them.”
Weinhofer said coyotes are fearful of humans and will usually avoid them. However, they are stealthy and opportunistic and will try to snatch and carry off cats or small dogs to eat them. Farmers, she said, should know that they also go after small horses and cattle and chickens. She said that pet owners should not leave their animals outside by themselves and that if people are walking with pets near a wooded area they should be kept close on leashes.
“They are out both during the day and the night, but they are more active at night,” said Weinhofer. “They like the protection of wooded areas so they are usually encountered around there, but they have been known to eat trash too. They can’t jump a 6-foot fence but they have been known to pull themselves over four or five foot fences. If you don’t pick up under your bird feeders or if you leave pet food outside that will attract squirrels and rabbits and could attract coyotes, which eat them. The usually wander in about a 7 to 10 square mile radius - not as big an area as bears.”
Weinhofer said that coyotes don’t run in large packs of 12 or 15. They are monogamous and stick to a smaller family pack. The pups are born in April and May and hunt with their parents until they reach 9 months old, after which they are left to fend for themselves. They attack foxes and have been known to steal and then enlarge their dens.
“They are very vocal animals - a family of six could sound like 30,” said Weinhofer. “They vocalize to let their parents know where they are and the pups get excited when their parents bring them food. They won’t gang up on humans though.”
Weinhofer said that no animals are known to hunt coyotes, which means they are unlikely to contract rabies. It is legal, she said, to hunt coyotes during eight months of the year. These hunting laws, she said, are strictly regulated.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.