DEEP reminds residents of ways to avoid conflicts with coyotes

With a coyote attack resulting in the death of a small dog last month in Ridgefield, it is worth reviewing how to reduce contact with these predators. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) offers the following information.

"As coyotes have become more prevalent in the state, incidents of conflict with humans and animals have also become more common. The risk of a coyote attacking a human is low, but this risk increases if they learn to associate people with food through intentional or unintentional feeding," the department said in a press release.

Common-sense steps to avoid conflict with coyotes include:

• Do not allow pets to run free. Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times.

• Never feed coyotes. Do not place food out for any mammals. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet foods, and fallen fruit. Secure garbage and compost in animal proof containers.

• Always walk dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. Do not run or turn your back.

• Attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises and acting aggressively.

• Be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior (e.g., approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, stalking children, chasing joggers or bikers) and report these incidents to authorities immediately. In Wilton, call police at 203-834-6260. If it is a real emergency, call 911.

• Be aware of and report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures, and extreme lethargy. Daytime activity is not uncommon and does not necessarily indicate rabies.

• Teach children to recognize coyotes and to go inside the house (do not run) or climb up on a swing or deck and yell if they are approached.

• Contact the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 for more information on coyotes or other wildlife problems.

Background on Coyotes

Coyotes were not originally found in Connecticut, but have extended their range eastward during the last 100 years from the western plains and midwestern United States, through Canada and into the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Coyotes were first reported in Connecticut in the mid-1950s. For the next 10 years, most coyote reports were from northwestern Connecticut. Coyotes eventually expanded their range throughout the entire state and are now a part of Connecticut's ecosystem. The coyote is one wildlife species that has adapted to human-disturbed environments and can thrive in close proximity to populated areas.

A typical coyote resembles a small, lanky German shepherd, but several characteristics distinguish it from a dog. Coyotes tend to be more slender and have wide, pointed ears; a long, tapered muzzle; yellow eyes; slender legs; small feet; and a straight, bushy tail which is carried low to the ground. The pelage (fur) is usually a grizzled-gray color with a cream-colored or white underside, but coloration is variable with individuals having blonde, reddish, and charcoal coat colors.

For more information on coyotes and other Connecticut wildlife, visit the DEEP website Wildlife Division page at