CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- New coyote attacks on pets in New Castle have both police and a wildlife expert calling for change – not by the wild canines, but by people.
According to police, a 38-pound dog on Hardscrabble Road and a 44-pound pooch on Ludlow Drive were attacked last week.
In both cases, their owners heard the dogs barking and were able to frighten the coyotes off. Both pets survived.
But earlier this year, two smaller dogs were attacked by coyotes in the Random Farms section of the town. One of those dogs died.
The homeowners group there reacted to the attacks by setting traps, which wildlife advocates claimed were not only inhumane, but not effective.
According to an alert posted by police, homeowners shouldn't assume their yards are safe just because they haven't seen any coyotes lurking around their neighborhoods.
Small dogs are easy prey, but even larger ones are no match for a coyote, police added.
Frank Vincenti, of the Long Island-based Wild Dog Foundation, spoke at a public meeting on the coyote situation in July in Mount Kisco.
Vincente said Friday that he is frustrated that these attacks are still occurring, but that it’s the behavior of residents, not coyotes, that needs “scrutinizing.”
“Coyotes are coyotes; they just don’t like dogs,” Vincenti said, adding: “They haven’t changed, people need to change.”
But, he allowed, even the most cautious folks may have a “lapse in judgment” once in a while and leave their pets unprotected outdoors.
This “second wave of aggression” from coyotes, he said, can be attributed to the fact that, at this time of year, coyote pups “start moving around the territory” with the adult animals.
Coyotes are very active and can travel between 10 and 15 miles a night as they crisscross their territory, Vincenti said.
They do not actually hunt dogs and cats, but they might grab one if the opportunity arises.
If a curious dog should happen to approach a pup, that’s also likely to trigger an attack from the protective females, he said.
Many experts have talked to town residents over the years and Vincenti said he offered to physically "harass" the coyotes but was rebuffed.
Police also said the United States Humane Society advises that dogs should never be chained and should always be on a leash in public places.
Dogs should never be allowed to “interact” with a coyote and pet food or water should not be left outside where it could attract wild animals.
Coyote breeding and pupping season typically occurs from January through March and the animals will go after even large dogs if they feel their territory is threatened.
At this time of year, Vincenti said, the pups are traveling with their parents.
Police said that fencing is effective for keeping the critters out of yards, but it has to be at least 6-feet-tall and extend underground by at least 12 inches. Fencing can be secured with landscaping staples, police said.
Devices called “coyote rollers” can thwart animals trying to get over the fence, they said. Other do-it-yourself options include adding PVC piping or chicken wire to the top of the fence and retrofitting a mesh apron to its bottom. The apron has to extend at least 12 inches out and be secured, again, with landscaping staples.
New Castle’s geography seems to be a factor in the number of coyote incidents, he said.
There is open land, “sandwiched between a lot of major roads,” Vincenti said, that sort of channel the critters as they move around looking for food.
But they have also been spotted foraging in urbanized places such as Yonkers. Vincenti said he himself has been monitoring a coyote family in Queens.