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Coyote Attacks Dog On Clifton St., Sightings Increase

With pups in dens, residents should expect more sightings as males are foraging far and wide.

A coyote attacked a dog on Clifton Street during daylight hours last week that left both a dachshund and a young woman going through a series of shots as a precaution to contacting rabies, according to a police report. 

But suggestions made by the veterinarian for the resident – whose dog was bitten and whose daughter came in contact with the attacker's saliva, according to police – who called the coyote's actions "unusual" and the animal "possibly rabid" was most likely incorrect, according to Belmont's Animal Control Officer.

"That is bogus information," said John Maguranis, who works out of the town's Health Department. He said since rabies is a fatal virus, the shots are being given as a  "precaution" since the animal has not been caught and can not be observed.

"There is no evidence that this coyote was rabid. In fact, what he was doing is fairly normal at this time of the year," said Maguranis.

The assault occurred a few days after a resident called in the incident to police Saturday, May 14. She asked what the police would do if they confront a coyote which was demonstrating the same behavior. 

"Officers would assess the matter at the time," said Belmont PD's Lt. Richard Santangelo. 

The resident called the police to also say that her neighbors had seen the coyote that day but it was gone by the time the police arrived.

In fact, Maguranis said he received "a lot of calls" from Friday to this Monday of a coyote in and around a four street area including Cilfton, lower Concord Avenue, Prentiss Lane and Rockmont Road. 

"There's (a coyote) around there," said Maguranis, who said that it appears to be a number in and around Habitat, including a sighting of one with a cat in its mouth.

"That's a warning that if you leave your pets out, they may not be coming back," said Maguranis.

Maguranis said despite many people believing that coyotes are nocturnal, and while the animal does a majority of its hunting at night, "they are in fact diurnal and will routinely seek prey during the day."

"So it's common to see them looking for small animals and that will include small dogs," he said.

The reason coyotes may appear more aggressive and are frequenting neighborhoods more often is due to a growing family. Most coyote dens are currently filled with on average six hungry pups and with the mother required to stay with her brood, males are forced to bring in enough food for him and a weaning female.

"This is the time of year that they are most active," said Maguranis, who is working the town's IT Department in creating a 'coyote tracker' in which residents will be able to submit reports that will create a map of locations where the animal has been. That mapping webpage will be available to the public "soon," said Maguranis.

David Ertischek (Editor) May 17, 2011 at 08:48 PM
It's important to note that if officials were to remove a coyote, at least two more coyotes would come and take over the other coyote's territory. I mention this because people often say to relocate coyotes or kill them, but that just brings more coyotes.
Susan Danseyar May 17, 2011 at 09:06 PM
We routinely see coyotes in Cambridge, always on "garbage" night. Obvious as it sounds, keep your rubbish cans tightly closed and if you have an open compost pile, switch to a covered one.
Ed May 17, 2011 at 09:07 PM
David, What makes you think that two, nay AT LEAST two, coyotes could survive within the same territory that formerly could only sustain one coyote? You don't know what the heck you're talking about.
Susan Johnson May 18, 2011 at 02:33 PM
I want to emphasize how lucky we are as a town to have an animal control officer who is as knowledgable, accessible and on top of the game as John Maguranis.
John Maguranis May 18, 2011 at 05:22 PM
Ed, David is right. Research has proven that it is common to have an increase in coyotes in an area that was once "claimed territory". Coyotes that were studied in Cape Cod showed increases up to two thirds in territories that an alpha male or female were removed or killed. Additionally, the coyotes that populated the open territory were usually younger and inexperienced. John Maguranis Belmont Animal Control Officer
RockLobstah May 18, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Yikes. Great photo, Franklin. How'd you catch that lil guy in the act?
Ed May 18, 2011 at 06:10 PM
John, I'm sure you know your stuff, being an animal control officer. But the increases that you and David are talking about are very different. The Cape Cod study showed increases of UP TO two-thirds, meaning that the increases fell into a range of 0% to 67%. Now David on the other hand says that "at least two" will take it's place, meaning that the population increase will be a minimum of 100% increase (i.e double) to who knows what...maybe 200% (i.e. triple). That's a big difference! While it's true that coyotes killed (by either by man or nature) are quickly replaced by new ones, all the studies indicate that lethal elimination of coyotes (be it poison, lethal trapping or shooting) is the most effective means of urban coyote control. They only sources that deny this are PETA and other anti-animal cruelty organizations for biased reasons.
David Ertischek (Editor) May 18, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Ed, While I am not a registered tracker, I do enjoy the hobby. From my experience, if a coyote is removed, gets killed or what have you - two more show up. Sometimes a third. Coyotes usually follow human paths so you can track them easier than some other mammals. Their paw prints are unique and different from dogs. Not to sound too much like a tree hugger, but there continues to be building in wooded areas in Belmont, I can understand why these coyotes are showing up more in human view. Also, a coyote in Belmont is not an urban coyote. And if this one were to be killed by lethal injection it is highly possible two more will move in. But this coyote sounds to be more brazen than what you want to see from coyotes. A coyote attacking an adult human is cause for concern. Sorry to say it, but a coyote attacking a small dog makes animal sense.

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