From Newton TAB
August 21, 1997

Cat-eating coyotes are on the prowl

Activist warns pet owners of danger

A local cat-loving community activist has started a personal crusade against pet-hungry coyotes. Auburndale resident Anne Hynes has gone door to door to urge neighbors to impose an evening curfew on their pets after several local animals disappeared, including her own. Coyotes are the feared pet-snatchers.

"I personally have not seen a coyote, but my daughter has," Hynes said. "I am very concerned."

On July 9, Hyne's 10-year-old Tabby cat was out late unknown to its owner. The cat did not normally wander far from the house. Hyne's daughter heard a brief noise, like a cat howling, that evening and the cat was never seen again.

Hynes' Tabby was the second of her cats to vanish. Two years ago another cat refused to go inside the house one evening and never returned. At that time a neighbor alerted her to the coyote problem. She has been very careful to keep her cats inside since.

"Many cats have been lost," said Hynes. "Mine was. They usually can't find a body."

Hynes said many local residents believe the coyotes live in 20 acres of nearby city and privately owned land that once included the Pine St. dump. Coyotes tend to den in second growth woods, thickets along fields, marsh and bushy riparian corridors.

"My mother saw one in the backyard a couple of weeks ago," said Auburndale resident Judy Quinlan. "She said it looked like a German Shepard with a longer face and that it was big. She said she was afraid."

Coyotes range in color from silver, red, black or blond. The animal does look like a medium sized dog with a narrow snout and bushy tail. Neighbors claim a coyote was caught on video tape recently wandering in an Auburndale yard.

"I haven't seen any but I've heard about them," said Auburndale resident John Caira. "I know people are missing their pets."

Hynes was reluctant to publicize the coyote problem for fear she would not be believed. She said she contacted local animal control, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, and a local state representative about the problem and was told there was nothing that could be presently done.

The Massachusetts Wildlife Protection Act restricts the preventative action of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Hynes advocates for the use of non-harmful trapping methods which would help contain the animals.

Coyotes feed on small rodents, birds, frogs, fruit, berries, vegetables and domestic pets. Pet owners are encouraged to bring their pets inside between dusk and dawn. Pet food or containers should not be left outside and garbage should be secured in trash cans to prevent predators.

"They are animals that will hunt," said Hynes. "They will hunt for food when no one is around."

Although coyotes favor the dark and are wary of humans, the animal can detect people's schedules and will scout regardless of the hour. Over time, coyotes could lose their inhibitions around humans.

"They can adapt themselves to any neighborhood," Hynes said.

Coyotes came to Massachusetts from Northern New England approximately 25 years ago. Although the coyote population cannot be tracked because of state legislation, it estimated that there are as many as 4,000 coyotes breeding in the state. Coyotes are being blamed for the disappearance of cats across Massachusetts.

"It just makes my heart ache," Hynes said.

Copyright © 1997 Community Newspaper Company

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