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75-Pound Dog Killed By Coyotes Near Boston Post Road [Updated]

The family asked us to warn others and remind people that even big dogs can fall prey to wild beasts in the densely populated south end of town.

 

A 75-pound dog was killed Wednesday night by what appears to be a coyote near the Boston Post Road in the south end of town Wednesday night, the owners of the dog say. 

The owners of the dog asked that we post a reminder to people that even large animals in densely populated areas can fall prey to coyotes. 

"Our dog was attacked and killed last night, almost definitely by coyotes," said Kathi Traugh via email. "This is not news (of course), but thought it would be good for people that live nearby to know that there are coyotes out there this spring. He was a big dog (75 lbs) but old, which was probably why they went after him. I live on the Boston Post Rd, right near West Cemetery. So being close to town is no protection." 

Unusual but not unprecedented

Traugh asked that we post the information as a "neighborly heads up."

Chris Vann, Nuisance Wildlife Biologist, with the Connecticut Wildlife Division of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said such an attack is unusual but not unprecedented. 

"Coyote attacks on a large dogs, like the one in Madison, are uncommon but have occurred before. These attacks are not predatory but territorially driven as coyotes defend their den/home territories against other coyotes, foxes, and, unfortunately, domestic dogs," Vann said. "An older dog that is unable to defend itself may be more susceptible to attack."

Mating and breeding season could result in territorial disputes

Vann said attacks on dogs may increase during the late winter and spring because it is mating and breeding season.

"Coyotes establish and defend their territories aggressively at this time of year, however, attacks on dogs may occur year round," Vann said.

Most attacks happen at night but pet owners should not put their pets out in the middle of the day, either, Vann said. "Some [attacks] may occur in the middle of the day."

Coyote attacks on dogs becoming a common occurrance

This past February, the Wildlife Division's Hartford Office documented six coyote attacks on dogs, of which five dogs were killed, and one severely injured and put down, Vann said.

"These are likely only a percentage of the total number of attacks occurring around the state. This number is of concern but not necessarily that unusual as coyote attacks on dogs have become a common occurrence in Connecticut over the past 10 plus years," Vann said.

Attacks on dogs appear to be on the rise, Vann said, adding that dog owners should take appropriate precautions.

A six-foot fence is high enough to keep_most_coyotes out

"Dog owners living in areas with coyotes, or in areas where coyotes may travel, should supervise and/or leash their dogs whenever outside, and keep cats indoors. A six-foot fence or kennel is recommended and is considered high enough to prevent most coyotes from jumping or climbing over," Vann said. 

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Fact Sheet on coyotes gives the following advice: 

"As coyotes have become more common, public concerns about coyotes attacking pets and people, especially children, have increased. Although some coyotes may exhibit bold behavior near people, the risk of a coyote attacking a person is extremely low. This risk can increase if coyotes are intentionally fed and then learn to associate people with food.

Coyotes will attack and kill pets, especially cats and small dogs (less than 25 pounds). The best way to protect pets is to not allow them to run free. Cats should be kept indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs should be on a leash and under close supervision at all times. The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. In addition, homeowners should eliminate other sources of attraction to coyotes including pet food left outdoors, table scraps on compost piles, and decaying fruit below fruit trees."

But, as Traugh says, even larger dogs, particularly if they are older, can be susceptible to attacks as well. 

Editor's Note: This story was updated at 7:14 p.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2012 to add information from Chris Vann. 

 

Gene Bartholomew March 20, 2012 at 09:39 PM
The rumor was that DEP introduced them to control the deer population, if they did they did so in error. Watch the movie or read the book, Never Cry Wolf, predators make a herd of deer or caribou heartier and stronger, and they mainly eat small prey, its rare they get a deer cept the young and old or weak. Its man that kills the herd by taking the trophy's, the healthiest, and biggest. Given the number of coyotes in Ct if their notion was correct the deer would have been irradicated in 2001 if not sooner, they just don't eat that many deer.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Coyotes have been here since at least the 80's when DEP had to acknowledge that, they did the same thing with the coyotes and bears that they now do with mountain lions, deny their existence. People have been reporting mountain lions on the east coast since the 1990's, sigtings in CT rose in the 2000's and still they deny, claiming the one killed on the highway is the one everyone saw everywhere, I have a bridge for sale if you buy into that. I was kind of surprised to see this story on many different Patches but all the comments are different from each area, it would have been nice to have them all together while being on all Patch pages, not sure if the system can do that, I picked this up off the Haddam one and then noticed the article repeated. It would be nice to know more info like was the dog found or not, were the wounds examined by someone in the know? Also I think everyone should start familiarizing themselves with wildlife in the area, particularly coyotes, wolves, and mountain lions, check pictures and sizes so that you know what you are looking at, wolves are much bigger and taller than a coyote, mountian lions can be confused with bobcats if you don't know the difference and this makes sightings credible. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gray_wolf http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cougar
Pem McNerney March 21, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Thanks for all the great info and links. You ask an interesting question about repeating the story across Patch sites in different towns. Sometimes we cross post, which means the same story appears and comments on each Patch appear on all Patches. Other times individual sites clone the article, which means the comments on that article show up only on that Patch. Some readers are annoyed by comments from other towns, and want town-specific comments only. But I see your point that on stories like this, it would be very interesting to see what people in other towns are saying about their critter situation. I believe the dog was found. If I'm able to find out any more, I will let you know. Again, thanks for all of the interesting information.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 01:44 PM
What caught my eye was the statement "almost definitely by coyotes". Like I say coyotes attack from behind and all sides so there would be bites all over, mountain lions generally attack from above pouncing and grab the neck so there might be some claw marks and a neck wound. Authorities would be cautious to claim a ML attack because of the panic in a community and DEEP doesn't want anyone claiming anything about ML's. They've already determined there was just one after everyone has been calling them for 10 years and they denied their existence. What the Milford cat and its dna actually proves is what their migration paths are and that they can come this far, ML's in the Dakotas came from the west and as they populate there they are again heading east and there is plenty of deer here to support them.
Gene Bartholomew March 21, 2012 at 02:09 PM
this site has many listed sightings, but unfortunately lacks credible evidence, like pictures and scat, so you be the judge http://ctmountainlion.org/

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