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Coyotes spotted in Waltham



June 18, 2002

WALTHAM [MA]- At least two coyotes have been spotted in the Prospect Hill Park area, but local public safety officials said the animals, unless they're sick or provoked, should not pose a threat to people.

Worcester Lane resident Joe Guinan reported seeing a male coyote trudging through his back yard about 10 days ago. On Friday, he saw what he believes was a female.

Guinan said neither coyote did much, other than look around and head back into the woods. But he's concerned they could be dangerous to small children and pets. He said he was particularly upset about the first sighting because his grandchildren were planning a visit later in the day.

Waltham Police and Animal Officer Ann Campobasso have monitored the situation for the last week, but said there's little the city can do if the coyotes aren't rabid or aggressive toward residents.

"We can't relocate them and can't put them down," said Waltham police Captain Bill Stanton.

State law prohibits communities from removing animals such as coyotes from their natural habitats if there's no evidence they are a threat to the public. Permission may be granted if the animals become a nuisance. If the animal attacks a person, police can have the animal killed.

So far, the coyotes haven't done anything to warrant local action. Campobasso said there have been reports of coyotes in Waltham over the last four years. A rash of missing cats may be the only evidence of the animals causing a disturbance.

Cats are attractive game to coyotes, and Campobasso and Stanton recommend residents do not let their cats wander. Small livestock are also attractive to coyotes.

They also recommend residents keep their trash covered and not to feed coyotes.

Campobasso and Stanton also said residents should not approach a coyote, and it's unlikely a healthy coyote would approach or attack a person. They said they are more afraid of people than people are of them. However, there have been cases of coyotes attacking humans.

If there is a male and female coyote at Prospect Hill Park, Campobasso said cubs could be on the way.

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