The Day – Niantic Residents Frustrated Over Coyote Invasion

East Lyme: A family of coyotes that recently moved into the Niantic center is upsetting residents, who say the animals’ frequent activity makes neighborhood walkers nervous, threatens the lives of small pets and affects the quality of life. life in the city.

“I was across the street from CVS. He was driving down Pennsylvania Avenue and he passed right in front of my car,” Niantic resident Anne Thurlow said by phone Tuesday before approaching city officials.

He said coyotes have been seen along Smith Street, where he lives, as well as downtown; they are thrown between homes and businesses.

Thurlow was one of six Niantic residents who complained about the coyote invasion in the city during public comments at the East Lyme Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting on Wednesday.

First Councilman Kevin Seery told the meeting that the Waterford-East Lyme Office of Animal Control has received many calls about coyotes in the city, but so far there have been no reports of coyote aggressive behavior towards humans.

On July 28, the city will host a presentation from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to help provide solutions. For now, Waterford-East Lyme Animal Control Officer Robert Yuchniuk recommends that the city post coyote warning signs for residents and visitors with recommendations. He also suggests that residents keep outside lights on, carry a flashlight at night, make noises like sing or yell if they see a coyote, keep dogs on a short leash, and walk within lighted areas.

“I think the current idea of ​​not rehoming them until they become aggressive is not only irresponsible but totally unacceptable,” said Thurlow, a 13-year Niantic resident and owner of an 18-pound schnoodle.

He wants the town to take precautions against a possible coyote attack. She cited incidents involving a Massachusetts man whose leg was bitten off by a coyote in a commercial area, a 2-year-old boy in Dallas whose head was injured by a coyote on the family’s front porch, and a toddler attacked in Huntington. Beach, Calif., on the right. versus adults.

“We pay a premium to live here so we can walk to the movies and the beaches, but you can’t do that quietly anymore. The quality of life is just not the same,” Thurlow said.

She said residents now walk around with an air horn or large stick, constantly look between bushes and fences, and can no longer rely on fenced-in yards for small pets, since coyotes can jump 4-6 fences. feet. Thurlow is also concerned about vacationers, especially those with young children who often walk in front of their parents, who she believes should be educated on how to react appropriately if they encounter a coyote.

“I think it’s a great goal to protect these animals, but I really think you have to protect the citizens first,” Thurlow added.

Ann York, who also lives on Smith Street, believes the coyote’s den, estimated to consist of three adults and six pups, is located on property next to hers that has been deserted and overrun by wild animals. She said that one of the coyotes chased her dog into his own yard.

“I think the town should do something about these coyotes everywhere. It is not safe for children. It is not safe for dogs. And it’s not fair to the people who live here,” she said.

“I have coyotes in and out of my yard, too,” said James McClure of Faulkner Drive, one street off Old Black Point Road. He has a newborn baby, two dogs and a cat and considers himself an animal lover. He would rather have the town address the problem than have to take matters into his own hands.

“I don’t want to see a coyote hurt, but I don’t want to see my son hurt either,” he said.

Jean Mountzoures, also of Smith Street, had her dog killed by a coyote in another neighborhood six years ago. She does not want the traumatic experience to repeat itself. Two months ago, she had to chase her dog, which was on a long leash in her yard, into the woods to avoid a coyote attack.

“We all love animals. I feel like there is something we are not doing properly. I am really disappointed that nothing has been done yet,” Mountzoures said.

Lisa Steinberg of York Avenue, who has been in her home for 20 years, has seen the coyotes every day. “I see them crossing my yard, morning, noon and night,” she said.

He said he no longer sees squirrels in his yard and the coyote pack may become permanent members of the community. “They don’t have predators here.”

Dorothy North, also of Smith Street, has methodically recorded every time she has encountered one over the past few months, ever since she saw a coyote gobbling up a squirrel in her own garden. She recorded personal sightings of coyotes beginning at 10:15 am and later at 3:12 pm and 5:45 pm she recorded them moving on Bond and Sutherland streets and at the corner of Morton Street and Smith Avenue.

North said one of the animals’ frequent routes runs through his yard and York’s yard. She spoke with the mail carrier, the school bus driver, the elderly bus driver and a resident who saw one outside the Snap Fitness gym, and said they also saw the coyotes roaming the streets.

“I don’t know how long they’re going to help us,” North said. He pointed out his anti-coyote gear, which includes a fanny pack with a flashlight and air horn, to city officials at the meeting.

At 77, with a bad knee, he said after the meeting, how fast could he move to catch his dog if a coyote were to chase him?

Yuchniuk, the animal control officer, offered insight on what his agency can and cannot do to help remedy the current coyote problem at Niantic.

“There are times when my assistant and I deal with wild animals. If there is a rabies issue, we will remove that animal from the ecosystem so that it cannot spread the disease to other animals,” Yuchniuk said.

He said that because rabies affects animals neurologically, animal control officers look for signs that the animals appear drunk or show any aggression toward humans.

“If we see any of that behavior, that’s when we become concerned and we can take action,” he said. “But for the most part, our hands are tied.”

A nuisance wildlife control company, he said, and residents can hunt and trap wild animals 365 days a year in Connecticut, but cannot relocate them anywhere else. Because coyotes are a vector species for rabies, state law makes it illegal to capture them in a residential yard and then move them into the woods.

“So the only other action is for the animal to die,” Yuchniuk said. “But once that animal dies, it creates a vacuum and another coyote comes in because they’re territorial, so what’s keeping other coyotes out of your neighborhood are the ones you have here now.”

Yuchniuk said that while some eastern coyotes act alone, some are part of a pack and if one is killed, the rest are emboldened.

“I understand what you are saying about your cats and small dogs and we are afraid for the children, but as a branch of the government without a statute that allows us to do anything, my hands are tied,” Yuchniuk said.

“Coyotes are not new. They are everywhere in the state. In the spring, they actively forage for food to feed their young,” he said.

Provided residents with a fact sheet on eastern coyotes and how to live with them from DEEP.

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