A New England Town Invaded by Coyotes Calls in the Sharpshooters

“If humans act submissive toward them, and run away, it teaches them they’re the king of Nahant,” Mr. Wattles said during an educational meeting hosted by the town for residents in July. “You have to teach them you’re a threat, and they’re not welcome.”

By engaging in ongoing harassment known as “hazing,” he said — chasing coyotes; spraying them with water; throwing sand or gravel at them; screaming and banging pots and pans to disrupt them — residents can re-establish boundaries.

But after seeing little impact from attempts at hazing, some residents worry it may be too late.

Michael Hanlon, a part-time resident of the town, said he “yelled bloody murder” and swung a three-foot stick at three coyotes who circled him and his dog Dewey on a residential street one recent night, but the animals only retreated a few feet.

Mr. Hanlon retreated into his house.

“They have no fear at all,” said Ms. Frary, the day care provider, whose 12-year-old Pekingese poodle, Brody, reluctantly dons a spiked vest on walks. “It’s like a teacher who was lenient, and then tries to be strict … They’re used to us now, and it’s too late.”

She said coyotes have been known to laze in the sun on the local golf course, watching players putt. Linda Tanfani, another resident, complained to town officials after loitering coyotes cast a pall over her game of pickleball.

“When they’re ruling over us, controlling our lives, it’s not right,” Ms. Tanfani said at the select board meeting. “I’m tense all the time.”

Wildlife experts say most coyote aggression toward humans stems from people providing the animals with food, which can drastically alter their behavior. In Arlington, a Boston suburb that saw three non-fatal coyote attacks on children in 2021, police later determined that a resident had been feeding a coyote. Officers killed the animal, and the town has had no problems since, a spokesman said.

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