Jun 24, 2014 Allie Wenner Uncategorized
It isn’t uncommon for Frank Pitcher to see wildlife in his backyard – owls, hawks, deer and woodchucks are among the typical visitors to his property.
But about a month ago, Pitcher noticed something a bit out of the ordinary.
“The coyote came from the backyard when I was outside by the side of the house,” said Pitcher, who lives about a quarter-mile from Mott Road Elementary School. “She came around the other side, stopped, looked at me, then I looked at her and she went on her way.”
A few of the neighbors who live around the Kimry Moor neighborhood have also seen the coyote, and one contacted the Fayetteville-Manlius School District last week. On Friday, June 13, the district called every home with children who attend Mott Road Elementary to inform parents of the situation.
“We felt an obligation to inform our parents of Mott Road Elementary that it was reported to us that there was a sighting in the area and to be vigilant” said F-M Assistant Superintendent Mike Vespi. “We don’t think at this time that anyone is in danger, but obviously, it’s nature and you never know. We just wanted to take the necessary precautions.”
Both Vespi and Pitcher called the town of Manlius and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation immediately. DEC Fish and Wildlife Technician Tiffany Toukatly said the mother coyote’s behavior is normal and should not cause any alarm at this time.
“Because we know that the coyote has pups, it’s normal to see her out during the day because she’s out feeding them,” said Toukatly. “But it wouldn’t be normal if she was coming up and approaching people.”
Toukatly said it’s likely that the coyotes are living in a wooded area near or within the Kimry Moor neighborhood behind Mott Road. Pitcher said he suspects the coyote does most of her hunting near a pond across the street from his property and then returns to the wooded area behind his house with food for her pups.
“I haven’t seen her displaying any aggressive behavior and I certainly don’t think she’s rabid,” he said. “To me, it seems like she’s just doing what mothers do – looking for food for her young.”
According to Toukatly, it’s possible that the Mott Road area is just a temporary home for the coyote family. Often, when the pups are old enough, coyotes will leave in search of a more comfortable and secluded area.
As of now, the F-M district is restricted in what actions it can take concerning the coyotes, Vespi said. F-M already buses Mott Road students due to the fact that there aren’t sidewalks leading up to the school. And because the coyotes haven’t been seen on school property, there isn’t much that F-M can do besides stay vigilant to the situation. However, Vespi said that the district will be putting up a sign on Mott Road Elementary’s nature trail to inform visitors about the coyote situation.
It’s almost unheard of for coyotes to attack small children, but Toukatly said that they could go after cats and small dogs from time to time.
“Make sure you bring your outdoor cats inside, especially at dusk and in the morning,” she said. “If you have a dog that has an invisible fence, make sure you can see it at all times. Additionally, bird feeders can attract mice and squirrels, which can attract coyotes, so people should be attentive.”
And if you come face-to-face with a coyote yourself, she said to make as much noise as possible to try to scare it away.
“If you’re inside and you see it, open the windows, yell at it, clap your hands, take pots and pans, do whatever you can to scare it,” Toukatly said. “You want to make the coyote feel as scared as possible so it doesn’t get comfortable being around people.”
For more information about coyotes and their habits, visit dec.ny.gov/animals/9359.html.
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