September 7, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
Following the reporting of two coyote-related incidents in neighboring Cohasset involving attacks on dogs and a dog owner on Highland Avenue and in Whitney Thayer Woods during the last weekend of August, Hingham Animal Control Officer Leslie Badger posted a message on social media providing information to help educate Hingham residents about these creatures that are often spotted around town.
"We have received the normal amount of calls about coyote sightings that we get every year in Hingham," Badger told the Hingham Anchor, "but I am not aware of any actual coyote attacks this summer on humans or pets that were reported officially to us at Animal Control/Hingham Police Department."
The Town of Hingham and Badger "have always gone to great lengths to keep everyone educated about anything that could be a public health or safety risk," she said in the post. "I cannot stress enough to always be aware of your surroundings -- in your yard and out on trails -- and to supervise small children and pets."
Pets should always be leashed if they don't have "perfect trained distraction recall," meaning a dog who has been taught to be obedient no matter what is going on around him or her. Badger also advises to always stay on marked trails, with or without pets.
"If you see a coyote, haze it until it takes off," Badger said. "It's not a sign of rabies if you see one during the day or if it stops and looks at you. Just keep on hazing it until the coyote takes off, as is also recommended to do when you see a coyote napping in a warm, sunny spot, which they love. There are also easy-to-use free cell phone apps for air horns [to scare them away]."
Hazing is a method that makes use of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing -- which can include yelling, waving your arms when a coyote approaches, or using noisemakers or projectiles, can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and deter them from backyards and play spaces.
The ACO webpage on the town website includes a video of a panel of wildlife experts having an in-depth conversation about coyotes and a link to report sightings that are considered to be a serious concern (http://www.hpd.org/FormCenter/Animal-Control-6/Report-a-Coyote-Sighting-58). Be sure to include as much detail as possible. All sightings reported through this form will be logged and followed up on by the ACO or one of her assistants.
The state of Massachusetts makes the final call on hunting down or thinning out a pack of coyotes and other related issues, according to Badger.
MassWildlife offers the following tips for keeping coyotes away from your house:
- Secure your garbage in barrels with tight-fitting lids and eliminate easy-to-get food sources when possible.
- Do not feed or pet coyotes.
- Keep your pets secure, particularly small ones that are a potential food source.
- Walk dogs and cats on a leash.
- Keep bird feeder areas clean since the seeds attract small animals on which they prey.
- Feed your pets indoors.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds that could serve as resting areas.
- Don’t let coyotes intimidate you and don’t hesitate to scare them off with loud noises, bright lights, throwing a tennis ball, or spraying with a garden hose.
- Protect livestock and remove fallen produce from trees.
If a coyote (or any wild animal) is observed posing a threat by displaying aggressive behavior toward people or pets or it appears to be sick or rabid, Hingham residents are encouraged to call the Hingham Police Department -- (781) 749-1212.
The ACO or a police officer will respond and assess the situation. The Massachusetts Environmental Police can also be reached 24 hours a day at: (800) 632-8075.
Residents are asked not to call 911 or the police station business line to report seeing a coyote unless there is an emergency or immediate threat to humans. The Hingham Police Department and the ACO log all sightings that are reported in a central location in order to address any threats appropriately.
To read the Cohasset story, visit https://cohassetanchor.com/cohasset-officials-caution-residents-following-two-reported-coyote-incidents/
Go to http://www.hpd.org/191/Animal-Control for more information about coyotes and frequently asked questions or https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/what-do-about-coyotes and https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/coyote-hazing for hazing guidelines and dog-walking tools.