DARIEN, Conn. -- In the past two weeks two small dogs have been attacked by coyotes in Darien, including one who was killed, and Darien police are warning residents to take precautions.
The two attacks on dogs were reported in the northern section of Darien, and the Darien Police Department and the Municipal Animal Control Officer have received several recent reports from residents about coyote sightings and attacks on pets, police said.
As coyote sightings have become more common, police said public concerns about coyotes attacking people, especially children, have increased. Although coyotes may exhibit bold behavior near people, Animal Control Officer Chic Stahl said, "Coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare, however aggressive behavior toward small dogs is common and more prevalent during the breeding season which typically runs from January to February."
The risk of attack and aggressive behavior can increase if coyotes are intentionally fed and learn to associate humans and residences with food, police said.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division has provided a number of tips on how people can prevent conflicts with coyotes:
- Do not allow pets to run free. Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times. The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. A variety of livestock fencing and small animal pen designs can protect farm animals.
- Never feed coyotes. Do not place food out for any mammals. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet foods, and fallen fruit. Secure garbage and compost in animal proof containers.
- Always walk dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. Do not run or turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can often be attributed to this territorial behavior.
- Attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises (e.g., shouting, air horn) and acting aggressively (e.g., waving your arms, throwing sticks, spraying with a hose).
- Be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior (e.g., approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, stalking children, chasing joggers or bikers, etc.) and report these incidents to authorities immediately.
- Be aware of and report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures, and extreme lethargy. Daytime activity is not uncommon and does not necessarily indicate rabies.
- Teach children to recognize coyotes and to go inside the house (do not run) or climb up on a swing or deck and yell if they are approached.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds that coyotes or other animals may use.
- Educate your neighbors. Ask them to follow these same steps.
- Regulated hunting and trapping may be used to remove problem coyotes in areas where it is safe and legal to do so.
- Contact the DEP Wildlife Division at (860) 424-3011 for more information on coyotes or other wildlife problems.
To report coyote sightings in Darien, contact the Darien Animal Control Officer at (203) 662-5345 or the DEEP Wildlife Division at (86) 424-3011. The Darien Animal Control Officer will not trap or remove a coyote based on a sighting alone. To report animals that are behaving abnormally or are posing an immediate public threat, contact the Darien Police Department at (203) 662-5300 or the DEEP Emergency Dispatch Office at (860) 424-3333.