By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Despite the yips and howls of coyotes alarming morning walkers and startling at least a pair of students at the city’s middle school, neither the city nor the school plan to take action against the critters just yet.
While the coyotes have kept up what has become a long-running tradition of haunting some O’Maley Innovation Middle School visitors, police have no plans to heighten their response.
“This is an annual issue,” Police Chief Leonard Campanello said Friday. “The same advice that the animal control officer has given to people in the past should be followed this year as well, and we’ll continue to monitor the issue.”
If the problem worsens, police could consider relocating the coyotes and look into other options.
There has never been a recorded coyote bite in Gloucester, and the state has only confirmed four coyote bites in the entire state since 1950.
Campanello recommends following the advice of MassWildlife experts: People should not hesitate to scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises or bright lights. Also, throwing small objects at the animals or spraying them with water can also give humans the advantage.
Though coyotes look similar to dogs, MassWildlife experts insist people should remember they are wild animals and not try to feed or pet the coyotes.
O’Maley Vice Principal Jeff Strong said the coyotes have not presented an issue during the school day, as the animals tend to shy away from large groups. But a couple of students ran up to him before the start of school Friday morning to say they saw one of the wild animals.
Strong said the school has yet to take any action, but teachers and administrators are on alert.
“We’ll certainly keep our eyes peeled and our staffers aware of it,” Strong said.
Once coyotes settle in an area, the highly territorial animals can maintain an area anywhere from two square miles to 30 square miles. And they do not hibernate.
Most coyote sightings near the middle school reference the animals walking in the marshy areas by the athletic field and track.
East Main Street resident Kevin Verga walks four miles early each morning on the school’s track, and lately he has feuded with coyotes more often than not, he said.
“People have stopped walking because of the coyotes,” Verga said.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.