Because coyotes become more active during their mating season, from January to March, pet owners are urged to be vigilant.
The eastern coyote — which resembles a medium-sized dog in size and appearance, but has ears and thicker fur — can be found in nearly every town and city in Massachusetts. Coyotes weigh between 30 and 50 pounds and typically have gray fur coats and long, bushy tails.
In Massachusetts, mating season, during which coyotes are most active, peaks in mid-February, according to a fact sheet from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (Mass Wildlife). Coyotes give birth in the spring, around April or May.
As “opportunistic feeders,” according to Mass Wildlife, coyotes eat whatever food is easiest to find — including naturally available rabbits, deer, birds, insects and fruit, as well as garbage. , including artificial sources such as birdseed and compost.
Coyotes also see small dogs and cats as prey, and pet owners are advised to keep pets safe while outdoors.
“Although free-roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than wild animals, coyotes use cats and small dogs as potential prey and large dogs as competition,” reads the Mass Wildlife fact sheet. See it,” reads the Moss Wildlife fact sheet. “To protect your pets, keep them on a leash at all times.”
In an announcement sent to Holyoke residents with coyote mating season safety tips, officials urged pet owners to supervise pets while outdoors. Avoid tethering pets outside, especially overnight when coyotes are most active. Use a strap and have a hazing tool. And use non-slip collars and harnesses, which also help protect pets from car accidents.
People are also asked not to feed coyotes, whether directly or indirectly through unsanitary garbage, manure or birdseed. Coyotes will also use areas under porches and sheds to raise young, so homeowners are advised to close off such areas.
Maddie Fabian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.