Since Aug. 11, 25 coyote sightings — and one den — have been reported to New Canaan Animal Control.
"I do think there is a rise in the coyote population," said Mary Ann Kleinschmitt, New Canaan's animal control officer and park ranger. "That's why I want people to report sightings. I need to keep track of the areas where they are appearing."
According to Kleinschmitt, food source is a factor, "It's bound to happen when you have as many deer in the area as we do," she said.
It's not just deer. A coyote's diet includes rabbits, woodchucks, rodents, berries as well as gardens, compost piles and garbage.
"You can't attribute this rise in the coyote population to just one factor," Bill Flynn, Environmental Educator at the New Canaan Nature Center, told Patch. "One reason for this increase is that there's nothing hunting them anymore. Coyotes have filled the wolf niche in the biology world."
The recent coyote attacks in Ryebrook, NY, have raised concerns about escalating danger to humans from the animals.
"Healthy coyotes that are protecting their pups will bite, let go and leave. A rabid coyote will keep attacking," Kleinschmitt said.
A more immediate concern is that many coyotes in our area are infected with mange, which is highly contagious. If pet owners suspect their dog has mange, Kleinschmitt recommends immediately contacting a veterinarian.
Whether or not a sighting has been reported in your neighborhood, Kleinschmitt says, "They're out there. Coyotes cover most of the northern continent."
The most reliable indication of coyote presence is just how vocal these creatures are. The Nature Center's Flynn said that eerie howling heard at night is the pack calling itself together. Coyotes will hunt alone for smaller animals, but when they go after larger prey, they howl to gather, then become quiet to hunt.
Flynn said coyotes prefer to follow trails, just like humans, avoiding burrs and other obstacles. They leave their scat on the trail, which helps to track a coyote to its den.
Identifying a coyote den can be tricky. "It can include a cave, a hollowed out log, a badger or groundhog hole, or something they have dug themselves," Flynn said. "They take over another animal's den and only use it while they are raising their young, with the pups being born in April and May."
"They don't stay for long. They're very mobile animals and go where the food source is good."
Kleinschmitt emphatically discourages homeowners from trying to locate a den on their properties. If you suspect there is a den on your property, call Animal Control, but do not expect them to remove or kill the animals.
Only sick animals that have no chance of recovery are destroyed. "This is actually all under the jurisdiction of the DEP," Kleinschmitt said. "But we can give you the name of a trapper or you can call the DEP."
Kleinschmitt said you should not approach a coyote if you see one on your property.
"Keep pots and pans on your porch or deck and when you see one, bang as loudly as you can. If everyone did that, the coyotes would begin to leave the area," she said.
Following is Animal Control's most current list of reported coyote sightings:
Aug. 11: West Rd.
Aug. 13: Wardwell Dr. (3 sighted)
Aug. 16: Adams Ln., Brookwood Ln., South Bald Hill Rd. (2 sightings), North Wilton Rd.
Aug. 18: Fable Farm Rd.
Aug. 20: Hoyt Farm Rd.
Aug. 21: Nubel Ln.
Aug. 22: Fable Farm Rd.
Aug. 27: Dan's Highway
Sept. 1: Frogtown Rd. (2 sighted)
Sept. 3: Oenoke Ridge
Sept. 4: Lost District Dr. (2 sighted), Adams Ln.
Sept. 7: Proprietors Crossing (Den discovered)
Sept. 8: Brushy Ridge Rd., Wellsley Dr.
Sept. 10: Spring Water Ln.
Sept. 13: Country Club Rd., Hillcrest Rd.
Report coyote sightings to animal control at 203-594-3510.
The Department of Environmental Protection can be reached at 860-424-3000.