Our homes can offer an abundance of food, water, and shelter for coyotes. If you frequently see a coyote in your yard, make loud noises with pots, pans, or air horns, and haze the coyote with a water hose. (© Peggy Faranda photo courtesy of Project

TEWKSBURY — Recently, the Animal Control Officers of Tewks­bury, Billerica and Chelmsford hosted a coyote expert, John Ma­guranis, to share information about coyotes and how to coexist in a suburban setting.

Maguranis, a retired Army veterinary medic and animal control officer for the Town of Bel­mont, has been sharing information about the coyote for years. A packed auditorium at Town Hall demonstrated interest in the to­pic, from residents with small animals to children to hunters.

The animals have adapted to life in the suburbs and though they are perceived as a menace, the reality is they are just seeking to survive. Maguranis ex­plain­ed that coyotes are not to be feared by humans; we are not on their menu, and the incidence of attack is miniscule despite information which is misleading in the popular press.

That said, coyotes are interested in small animals as food, so people with small dogs and cats should not leave them out to wander.

“Keep your dog on a leash,” was the advice from Animal Control Officers in Tewksbury.

The Eastern coyote (pronoun­ced either ky-ote or ky-otee), has migrated to the area over hundreds of years, having come from the central plains. Maguranis ex­plained that “we are all in coyote territory,” which can span many miles despite never seeing them. Animal control officers did say respectfully that if residents see a coyote, please just take a photo. Coyotes are not a threat and are fine to be seen at any time of the day or night; they are not nocturnal and if they are seen in your yard, they may just be hunting rabbits or berries or rodents, not exhibiting signs of rabies (a common misconception).

Coyotes are here because of an abundant food source. Rapid residential development has removed woodland habitats and as such, smaller animals have moved into backyards, thereby moving the hunting grounds to the neighborhood setting. The animal control officers all emphasized the importance of not leaving food out for wildlife, including birdfeeders. It creates a dependency for the animals and draws rodents which in turn draws larger animals.

Coyote populations have flourished because their own natural predators have been eliminated. Bears, wolves and mountain lions have been wiped out from local landscapes and have altered the balance of the population. Coyotes, according to Magu­ranis, keep rodent populations in check, however, and are beneficial to the suburban and urban population of small animals.

ACO Christine Gualitieri did stress that pets should not be left outside unattended and that all dogs must be on a leash, not only for their own safety but in compliance with town bylaws.

“We encounter many people on the state hospital lands who let their dogs run free,” she said. “Even the best trained dogs get away from their owners and run off chasing a deer or a coyote and wind up getting hit by a car.”

Gualitieri said owners will openly argue with the officers when they are trying to do their work and keep the animals safe. There is a leash law in Tewksbury and it extends to state lands.

Maguranis said that common pest controls can be fatal for coyotes and other animals. When pups are newborn, the parents are seeking food. Rat poisons and other rodent controls can make coyotes very sick and there is no way to take them to a vet easily. Coyotes are vulnerable to the same illnesses as dogs, such as distemper, parvo virus, tapeworm, and mange.

Maguranis showed pictures of rescued coyotes with a range of issues. Officers take the animals, when they are able to be caught, to Tufts Veterinary clinic for treatment and eventual re-release.

Maguranis demonstrated how to scare off a coyote if it is in your yard through a method called hazing. Wa­ving your arms and making loud noises will not work. During the presentation, residents were instructed to take an imposing stance and walk straight toward the animal with a serious look.

While counterintuitive, this territorial behavior by the homeowner will send the ani­mal running and suggest that it not return. Coyotes can­not be relocated, nor should any animal, Magura­nis said. The animals will up­set the ecosystem in the new location and likely starve to death.

Maguranis is also an advocate for Project Coyote, a non-­profit organization whose goal is to eliminate wildlife killing contests, educate about coyotes and promote coexistence. He explained that Mas­sa­chusetts allows coyote kil­ling contests similar to other states, a senseless act in his estimation which does not re­sult in food or other outcome beyond sport killing.

For more information about coyotes, visit If you have local animal control questions, contact Billerica-Tewksbury Po­lice Department Animal Control at AC@Billerica­po­ or 978-640-4395.

(2) comments


Are the 3 Animal Control People educating the public or are the spreading propaganda from the Coyote project?

According to New Hampshire wildlife depart no coyotes were present in the late 1800’s and although coyotes did move here from Midwestern states, through Canada and into the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, the first verified account of a coyote in New Hampshire was in 1944 and spread across NH between 1972 to 1980 where they are common throughout the state that is probably the same time coyotes moved across Massachusetts. A big difference from the hundreds of years the animal control agents are saying; and, the public should be careful of the techniques these propagandist are spreading using the townships as their credibility.

The towns solicitors should be asking the question when someone who attended this forum is hurt, killed or pet is kill or injured using the governments agents techniques, such as taking a picture, that was giving to them by a so-called expert or agent of the town what is the municipalities liability in the negligent injury?


Coyotes don't attack???????

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