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December 18, 2013

School area takedown spotlights coyote surge

'Mangy' creature killed as it neared East Gloucester Elementary School

A “mangy” coyote reportedly seen heading toward the East Gloucester Elementary School Monday afternoon was euthanized after the animal alarmed several people in the area, according to city police.

While city residents have tiptoed around coyote populations — especially in the areas of Chapel Street, Blackburn Drive and O’Maley school — police typically have ignored the predators, but this coyote worried police.

“The coyote was sick-looking and heading toward East Gloucester School, so I was forced to put the animal down,” an officer wrote in the report.

The coyote had lurked around a construction crew on a road job and was not shying from cars. Environmental police, who were notified of the dead coyote, were unable to test the animal for rabies because the officer shot the coyote in its head.

Since experts can only find evidence of rabies by testing the animal’s brain, a shot to the head leaves nothing to test, according to an environmental police officer.

“Normally, coyotes don’t get rabies because they are the predator,” the environmental officer said. “The coyotes don’t usually interact with a rabid animal; they know better.”

In this case, the animal was exhibiting signs of aggressive behavior near the school, though it was more likely that the coyote was seeking food from garbage bins left out for collection that morning, she said.

Environmental police advise residents to feed pets inside in areas where coyotes have been roaming, as food left outside can attract the coyotes. They also suggest that people close off spaces, such as open areas under porches where the coyotes can burrow, and keep garbage in sealed containers inside a structure,if possible.

While people can usually scare away coyotes by making loud noises, the animals can grow accustomed to a noise and stop fearing it. Environmental police suggest that people change the noise they make to continue scaring the animals.

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