A coyote spotted in the Myopia Road area of Stoneham Thursday afternoon was not captured, according to Stoneham's Animal Control Officer Brian Johnston.
Johnston, who was not called out for the report of a coyote near 22 Myopia Road, said in an email to Stoneham Patch: "The numerous calls that I received stated it appeared to be a younger coyote and was just walking up and down the street 'like a dog.' Not to take away that this is still a wild animal and should be treated as one. In my opinion it probably wandered away from its den."
In the email, Johnston explained that capturing coyotes is prohibited unless there is just cause to do so.
"The coyote was not captured; in fact it is illegal in Massachusetts to capture and release coyote or any wildlife, as it can be detrimental to the wildlife and the residents. Coyotes are a legally protected furbearer and game animal," Johnston wrote. "Therefore, there are statutory laws and regulations dictating how and when a coyote can be removed.
"A coyote may not be removed simply because of its presence in an area. There must be damage or a threat to human safety by a specific animal."
Johnston added: "The only time myself or the Environmental Police are called is if the animal is an imminent threat to public safety, at that time one of us will respond and take appropriate action. As far as compared to other cities and towns, without statistics to back it up, in my experience, we have no more problems with coyotes or wildlife than any other community.
Here is information from the Department of Fish and Game's MassWildlife website you may find useful if you encounter a coyote:
Preventing Conflicts With Coyotes
Coyotes are currently well established throughout the state from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. They thrive in suburban and urban areas close to people. Coyotes eat many different foods, including small animals, fruits, vegetables, garbage, and pet food. Remember everything a coyote does is related to a potential meal. Here are a few suggestions to make your property less attractive to coyotes.
- Don't let coyotes intimidate you! Don't hesitate to scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises and bright lights. Don't hesitate to pick up small objects, such as a tennis ball, and throw them at the coyote. If a water hose is close at hand, spray the coyote with water in the face. Let the coyote know it is unwelcome in your area.
- Secure your garbage! Coyotes will raid open trash materials and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep in secure buildings when possible. Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night. Keep compost piles in containers designed to contain but vent the material.
- Don't feed or try to pet coyotes! Keep wild things wild! Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause coyotes to act tame and over time may lead to bold behavior. Coyotes that rely on natural food items remain wild and wary of humans.
- Keep your pets safe! Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, coyotes do view cats and small dogs as potential food and larger dogs as competition. For the safety of your pets, keep them restrained at all times.
- Feed pets indoors! Outdoor feeding attracts many wild animals to your door!
- Keep bird feeding areas clean! Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground as the seed attracts many small mammals that coyotes prey upon. Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds! Coyotes use such areas for resting and raising young.
- Cut back brushy edges in your yard! These areas provide cover for coyotes and their prey.
- Protect livestock and produce! Coyotes will prey upon livestock. Techniques, such as fencing, will protect livestock from predation. Clear fallen fruit from around fruit trees.
- Educate your neighbors! Pass this information along since your efforts will be futile if neighbors are providing food or shelter for coyotes.