Aggressive coyotes on Fairfield town line

Coyote spotted in Weston. —Carrie Schottmuller photo

Coyote spotted in Weston. —Carrie Schottmuller photo

The animal control officer for the town of  Weston has received permission from the Aspetuck Land Trust to hunt coyotes that are behaving abnormally on a tract of land near the Fairfield town line.

The land trust’s Taylor Woods/Tall Pines Preserve off Fanton Hill Road will be closed “until authorities determine the coyote problem has been resolved,” David Brant, Aspetuck Land Trust’s executive director, said in a press release issued this week.

Earlier this month, First Selectman Gayle Weinstein and Animal Control Officer Mark Harper met with some residents in the Hunt Lane, Thorp Drive area, near Aspetuck Glen and the Stony Brook Development near Route 136. They discussed the problems being caused by a certain group of coyotes that have been “behaving abnormally,” Ms. Weinstein said.

The coyotes in the area have been exhibiting unusually aggressive behavior, confronting and threatening people and pets. There have been reports of coyotes in the area stalking children at bus stops, and growling and barking at adults on homeowners’ properties, Ms. Weinstein said. “It has been a real cause for concern in that particular area.”

Normally, coyotes are afraid of humans and will avoid them. Ms. Weinstein made the distinction between normal behavior of the wild animals and this unusually aggressive behavior. “We’re not going after them just because they are here or they exist,” she said, but when their behavior endangers people and their pets, “we need to handle that.”

In response to complaints from neighbors in the area, town officials spoke with officials from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) about its options. “They are really limited,” Ms. Weinstein said.

The DEEP does allow an animal control officer to use whatever methods he or she feels is appropriate “if varmints are a nuisance,” such as in this case, the first selectman said.

The town passed along the information it had about the unusual behavior of the coyotes, and  asked the Aspetuck Land Trust for permission to hunt them in the preserve where Mr. Harper has identified their den.

After reviewing the information, the Aspetuck Land Trust Board of Directors voted last week to give Mr. Harper permission to hunt the problem animals on the property.

Mr. Harper said Tuesday he will try to take care of the problem as soon as possible. “I’m going to try to get the adults — the bigger ones seem to be the troublemakers,” he said, adding that if he can leave the younger ones, he will.

“I’m not on a mission to eradicate coyotes,” Mr. Harper said. “But I’ve never seen anything like these before. These particular ones will sit there and bark at you and growl at you.” They are not sick, he explained, just overly territorial. “They are so adjusted to having humans around … they are not afraid anymore.”

And that, he said, is what makes them a danger.

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