Coyotes on the prowl around Fairfield

Lately, residents around Fairfield, particularly by Lake Mohegan and wooded areas near the Merritt Parkway, have been consistently reminded of the dangers coyotes pose to children and small animals.

Beverly Lane residents recently sighted packs of about six cubs taking in the shade in their backyards. Many voiced concerns for their infants and pets.

 

Coyotes were first seen in Connecticut in significant numbers in the 1950s, but the rapidly have grown rapidly, especially as the mild winter could have accelerated the breeding period.

 

Dog and cat owners should be watchful, as small animals can often fall prey to the predators. (3,700 dog licenses were applied for last year, according to town clerk’s office.)

Seven attacks have been reported on animals this year, beginning with a Feb. 1 attack on a Mountain Laurel dog, which was located dead two days after reported missing.

The latest attack was on June 6, at 5 a.m., when a Mountain Laurel resident found her beagle dead in her yard. It was likely a coyote attack, Animal Control says.

The attack was the fifth attack on a Fairfield dog in the last five months. Officers urge caution for the sake of residents and pets.

The risk, however, of coyotes attacking people is “extremely low,” according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The coyote diet consists of mice, mall rodents, deer, fruits, garbage and other small animals.

Coyotes were not originally found in Connecticut, but have extended their range eastward during the last 100 years from the western plains and Midwestern United States, through Canada and into the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

Coyotes were first reported in Connecticut in the mid-1950s. For the next 10 years, most coyote reports were from northwestern Connecticut. Coyotes eventually expanded their range throughout the entire state and are now a part of Connecticut’s ecosystem. The coyote is one wildlife species that has adapted to human-disturbed environments and can thrive in close proximity to populated areas.

Originally an inhabitant of the western plains of the United States, the coyote now occurs from Alaska south into Central America and east from the Atlantic Provinces to the southeastern United States.

According to the DEEP, a typical coyote resembles a small, German shepherd, but is different it from a dog in the following ways: Coyotes tend to be more slender and have wide, pointed ears; a long, tapered muzzle; yellow eyes; slender legs; small feet; and a straight, bushy tail which is carried low to the ground.

“The pelage (fur) is usually a grizzled-gray color with a cream-colored or white underside, but coloration is variable with individuals having blonde, reddish, and charcoal coat colors. Coat color does not vary between the sexes. Most coyotes have dark hairs over the back and a black-tipped tail, which has a black spot near its base covering a distinctive scent gland. However, not all coyotes have the black markings.”

The diet of a coyote consists predominantly of mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, deer, some fruits, carrion, and when available, garbage.

Some coyotes will also prey on small livestock, poultry, and small pets. In Connecticut, unsupervised pets, particularly outdoor cats and small dogs.

For more information, call the Fairfield Police Animal Control Department at 203-254-4857.

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