EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 17, 2013

Coyotes or coywolves: Debate grows over their true identity


“The eastern wolf is a small, coyote-like wolf ... that settlers killed off in the 1700/1800s in New England,” he said. “So what I am saying is that there really aren’t any pure coyotes in New England. They are all hybrids.”

While the distinction may be of importance to biologists and other wildlife enthusiasts, from a practical standpoint it is still a wild animal that must be treated with respect, according to state and local authorities.

“We have coyotes in town and when people call we tell them, ‘Don’t leave your bird-feeders or garbage cans out,’” said Amy McCarthy, a community service officer with the North Andover Police Department. “And keep an eye on your domestic animals.”

She added, “Keep food sources to a minimum ... they’ll feed off of anything.” Bird-feeders become a source of food, she said, because small animals such as rabbits or squirrels that feed on the bird seed become a food source themselves for coyotes, laying in wait for an easy snack.

McCarthy said she hasn’t gotten any complaints recently about coyotes killing cats or small dogs, but she did get one phone call after one of Deyermond’s pictures was published in The Eagle-Tribune.

“People get nervous,” she said. “But we can’t do anything about them. We built up around their neighborhoods, and they have adjusted to having us around.”

Larson said there have been just five attacks by coyotes on humans since 1950, far less than the number of dog bites logged annually in towns like North Andover.

James McCarthy, a North Andover resident who recently started a local wildlife team to identify and certify wildlife habitat in town, said he hopes his organization can get the word out to people that coyotes are good neighbors as long as they are treated like wild animals.

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