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MassWildlife: Preventing Conflict During Coyote Mating Season

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BOSTON — Late January through early March is coyote mating season. 
Coyotes are very active during the winter while courting mates and defending their territory. Coyotes are in every city and town in mainland Massachusetts, meaning the opportunity for human-coyote interaction is high. 
The mere presence of a coyote is not a cause for concern. MassWildlife officials are reminding the public to take these 3 simple steps to prevent conflict with coyotes during the mating season: 
1. Protect your pets
  • Pets should always be directly supervised on a leash when outdoors, especially during the coyote mating season. 
  • Coyotes can't differentiate between their natural prey and small pets, so they will view unprotected outdoor cats and small dogs as a potential food source.   
  • Coyotes can't distinguish your dog from an intruding coyote, causing the coyote to be more aggressive toward medium- and large-sized dogs as they will view them as potential competition for mates and territory.  
  • Do not supervise your pet from a distance on your porch or at your backdoor. Most coyote attacks involve dogs that are unsupervised or being supervised from a distance in a backyard. 
  • Click here to learn more about protecting your pets from coyotes and other wildlife.
2. Remove human-associated food sources from your property
  • As opportunistic omnivores, coyotes will utilize naturally available food, like small mammals and birds, and human-associated foods, like bird seed, garbage, compost, pet food left outdoors, and backyard chickens. 
  • Coyotes that find human-associated food sources will spend more time in yards and neighborhoods. It's essential for neighbors to work together to secure or remove all human-associated food sources in a community.  
  • Coyotes that become dependent on human-associated food sources can start to exhibit bold behavior toward people. Never intentionally feed coyotes. 
3. Haze coyotes
  • While coyotes are naturally wary of people, this fear can lessen over time when they spend a lot of time around people or when they are fed, intentionally or unintentionally, by people. 
  • When you see a coyote in your yard, you should aggressively haze it. Hazing is a safe technique used to deter an animal from an area or to change its behavior. The intent of hazing is to frighten, not injure, the animal. 
  • You can haze a coyote by creating loud noises by yelling or using a small air horn, waving a jacket overhead to look bigger, spraying a hose or throwing small objects in the coyote's direction, and physically chasing and driving the coyote off. Haze the animal until it has fully left the area. 
  • Hazing will not be effective if it's done from inside a building, from behind a screen door, or from a car. Hazing is most effective when it's done repeatedly, when a variety of techniques are used, and when many people participate. 
  • Click here to learn more about effectively hazing coyotes

Negative encounters with coyotes are rare and human-coyote attacks are exceptionally rare. If you encounter a coyote that is exhibiting concerning behavior like approaching leashed pets, closely following people, or not running off when effectively hazed, you should contact your local Animal Control Officer or local MassWildlife office for assistance. If there is an immediate threat to public safety, call local law enforcement.   

Tags: coyotes,   MassWildlife,   

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Pittsfield Kayak Kiosk Proposal Withdrawn After Pushback

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — It is the "end of the road" for a kayak kiosk proposal after pushback from community members and the City Council.

Whenever Watersports has withdrawn its proposal for a kayak rental program at Onota Lake. Safety concerns arose around the company's self-serve model though it was stipulated that users sign liabilities away with a waiver as part of the process.  

"It's unfortunate. I had hoped the outcome would be different and I think (Recreation and Special Events Coordinator Maddy Brown) and you as well thought this was an opportunity to provide an additional level of services, recreation opportunity to folks at the park through a modern-app-based system," Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager James McGrath said to the Parks Commission on Tuesday.

"It would have cost the city nothing to have this sited. We wouldn't be responsible for any maintenance but there would be maintenance to the units and to the boats, etc. Everyone was going to get life preservers and there are instructions through the app so we thought it was it was safe and secure and a good fit for the park."

In December, the commission granted a request for the pilot program and City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta had been reviewing and revising a proposed contract that had not yet been approved. Last week during City Council, residents Daniel Miraglia and Gene Nadeau submitted a petition requesting a legal opinion on the proposal from the solicitor.

Miraglia expressed concerns about the lack of a bidding process, safety hazards, and the impact on a local business that rents kayaks on the lake. Onota Boat Livery owner Caryn Wendling was upset to hear that an out-of-town company would be allowed to operate the kiosk on the same lake as her business and also cited safety concerns.

Councilors asked that Pagnotta look into items such as the commission's authority with entering into contracts and if a bidding process would be needed for this.

Later that week, a request to the Conservation Commission for determination for the kiosk at Burbank Park located within the buffer zone associated with the inland bank was withdrawn. According to the application, it was proposed to be located before the beach area coming from the main parking lot.

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