Coyotes Come Out In The Cove

La Ree Delahunt PhotoCoyotes have been spotted darting across the fields at East Shore Park and lurking around the marsh. One started regularly emerging from the fence at Tweed Airport around 1 a.m. A particularly relaxed coyote was photographed sunning itself right in the middle of the road.

The coyotes sightings have become more common lately in Morris Cove, with neighbors sharing information about run-ins during casual conversation and online, on the Nextdoor neighborhood messaging site. (The issue pops up again from time to time; click here for a previous story.)

Morris Cove has East Shore Park and the wilder Fort Wooster Park, Lighthouse Point Park and the neighboring Morris Creek Nature Preserve. They are part of a chain of parks stretching into East Haven and North Haven. They provide refuges and open spaces that city-dwelling humans like. They also help maintain a habitat for coyotes and other wildlife.

Morris Cove residents wonder how best to handle the coyotes. Some worry that the animals could hurt or kill pets —  or even people, although coyote attacks on humans are rare, and none have been reported in the New Haven area, according to authorities.

The sightings create another kind of anxiety, too: People worry about how to handle their neighbors’ reactions to them. Some are fervent in their desire to protect the animals at all costs, while others feel erring on the side of caution, and maintaining a little fear, is a better tactic.

Kim Velez, who has been an active commenter on the online discussions, is in the former camp.

“I get irritated and some of my comments don’t come out that nice,” she admitted in a phone interview. When neighbors have posted alerts about coyote sightings, she’s reminded them the coyotes were here first. An avid animal lover and rescuer, Velez said her passion comes from a good place. She believes the “warnings” and other expressions of fear about coyotes happen because people don’t know enough about the animals and their right to roam the land.

“They’re not a problem. People are afraid because they don’t understand,” she said.

Velez, who lost one of her own cats to a coyote, urges pet owners to keep cats inside and dogs leashed in order to avoid run-ins with coyotes, who have allegedly attacked small animals in the neighborhood. (See this 2009 Independent story, though be forewarned: The photographed aftermath is gruesome.)

But people shouldn’t be scared, said Velez, who speaks from her own experience.

“They will walk away from you,” Velez said. “When they don’t, it’s because they have become accustomed to living with humans.”

Jean Pogwizd PhotoThat’s correct, according to Lt. Jason Rentkowicz, the East Shore’s top cop. He said that residents have reported coyotes to New Haven police dispatch, to animal control, and to him directly.

“Our state and cities changed a lot over the past hundred years. Those changes impacted the natural habitats of many species. Coyotes found themselves venturing out of the woods and into cities where they could more easily scavenge for food,” Rentokowicz wrote in an email. “Garbage pails conveniently left out at the curb, litter, and the abundance of squirrels and other varmints around here make for easy meals. The more time coyotes spend in urban environments, the more comfortable they get.”

Rentkowitz said authorities’ first concern is public safety. If someone believes there is a danger from wildlife, or sees a sick or injured animal, calling police or animal control is the right thing to do. That being said, during all coyote-related complaints so far, officers encountered non-aggressive animals at the scene that ran off when approached. Although rumor has it that coyotes are the culprit in several cat disappearances, he said he hasn’t received reports of pet attacks.

There is no way to ethically or effectively remove coyotes, he said. He said the best way to alleviate fear is through education.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has a wealth of information on its website. Rentkowitz shared some of his own practical safety tips: never feed coyotes; supervise pets during outdoor time; secure your garbage; don’t try to pet coyotes (they are wild animals); and never try to capture a coyote, which is illegal, and can result in them being injured. 

He said he gets a lot of complaints about one coyote, in particular, roaming the Cove, nicknamed Tripod, since he only has three legs. The rehabbed animal is not aggressive and has never been a problem, he said. His injury could be the result of a homemade snare.

Rentkowitz shared collected wisdom, along with representatives from Animal Control and DEEP, at a community meeting to discuss wildlife concerns in February, organized by Morris Cove Alder Jody Ortiz. She organized the information session in part because of the online messages she’d observed from Cove residents, confused about how to handle the animals and often fighting amongst themselves.

Many believe that coyotes are now more prevalent in the neighborhood as the result of actions at Tweed airport (another contentious topic in the Cove).

“The connection should be made that the coyote incursion is related to the wildlife fence constructed at Tweed Airport, which significantly reduced their habitat,” wrote Rachel Heerema on the Nextdoor site. The fence was constructed in 2014 to keep animals — like a deer that was struck by a plane in 2012 — off the runway.

Tim Larson, executive director at the airport, has said in the past that Tweed has a wildlife mitigation program, which includes sounding air horns to scare animals away so they do not interfere with planes. He said the practice does not disturb coyote dens.

Whatever the reason for their prevalence, the coyotes are most likely staying put.

Many Cove residents, like Ellen Scanley, are coming to grips with that. “They seem to mind their own business. I don’t mind them being around, find them kind of interesting and don’t want them being killed,” she said.

Rentkowicz said he will continue to educate the public, and hopes that residents will do the same for themselves.

“Wildlife is a part of our communities,” he said. “After being educated on the species they live with, many of the uneasy residents expressed an acceptance and even an appreciation for them; even coyotes.”

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posted by: OverTheRiverThruTheHood on July 9, 2018  10:44am

“When neighbors have posted alerts about coyote sightings, she’s reminded them the coyotes were here first.”
Actually the so-called Eastern Coyote (or coywolf) is a hybrid that has only existed since the 1940s. The first sightings were in Canada and have slowly spread. In 2014, a DNA study of northeastern coyotes showed them on average to be a hybrid of western coyote (62%), western wolf (14%), eastern wolf (13%), and domestic dog (11%) in their nuclear genome.
So no, they weren’t here first, they are not native.

posted by: wendy1 on July 9, 2018  11:10am

I love and admire coyotes unless they are taking me across the border.  They are what David Quammen, (old Yalie) calls one of the weedy species like cockroaches, rats, and pigeons who may survive a totally polluted planet (of our making).  It remains to be seen if our species is a weedy one.

posted by: robn on July 9, 2018  12:05pm

Dogs shouldn’t be left outside in an unfenced area or unattended for long periods of time anyway and cats never because they’re bird killers.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on July 9, 2018  12:20pm

Why not put up signs warning people that there are coyotes in the area?

posted by: HewNaven on July 9, 2018  2:03pm

Predator animals are a necessary part of an ecosystem. Would you rather have more cases of Lyme disease or a few dead cats. The cats, as others have pointed out, should be kept inside anyhow. They are not part of the ecosystem. They are domestic animals and should not be allowed to roam (and hunt).

posted by: 1644 on July 9, 2018  2:09pm

Coyotes are filling the role wolves once did, before Putnam came along. They control many populations which can be troublesome: squirrels, deer, etc.  Before we had coyotes, I had squirrels chew a hole in my roof.  As rob say,  free-roaming cats can be a dander to songbirds, and coyotes control the cat population as well.  Frankly, I am surprised it has taken this long for coyotes to enter New Haven.  Bobcat and bear are next.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 9, 2018  2:55pm

Coyotes have been in the area since at least my childhood, but they are more prevalent and less wary of people than they used to be.  Very smart too - I’ve seen one literally waiting at the crosswalk on Concord and Burr for traffic to pass, and then crossing like a polite human.

I do think there is a correlation between the construction of the new wildlife fence in 2014 and the rise in coyote sightings in backyards, streets, and parks.  Poor maintenance of parks due to staff and budget cuts doesn’t help.  As the Tweed wildlife fence falls into disrepair (along with the drainage on Dean Street), it may just become a barrier to migratory species and not local predators like coyotes or even large prey like deer (which are now also sighted more in the Cove, anecdotally).

posted by: NHPLEB on July 9, 2018  3:48pm

I blame Yale!.......  just kidding…..  Look:  The animals have to have a place to live and they must eat to survive. Those of us stupid enough to let our cats and dogs roam will pay the consequences.  I do believe that the fence around the airport has forced animals to find other ways to get around their range so you may see them where you didn’t used to .  We are more of a danger to them than they are to use.  Using common sense will not attract the animals closer and cause a bad encounter between us.  There are no more now than there were some years ago.

posted by: 1644 on July 9, 2018  5:10pm

Sean: If the coyotes use crosswalks and wait for traffic, they are much smarter than the Yalies downtown. :)

posted by: T-ski1417 on July 9, 2018  6:05pm

Don’t really care.  If one of those things comes near me, my dog, my house or my kids I’m smoking it…End of story.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on July 9, 2018  8:01pm

The coyotes.Just like other Urban Animals are becoming victims of the gentrification vampires.

Where Do Urban Animals Go When Their Habitats Disappear?

This got me thinking: As we grapple with the impacts of gentrification on low- and middle-income human residents, should we be talking more the displacement of wildlife? What can we humans do to welcome and protect our non-human neighbors? And where did my squirrels and sparrows go?First, a basic truth: Cities are nature. As areas urbanize, he said, top-order predators like wolves and mountain lions are pushed out, creating a pressure release on middle-sized predators like coyotes and foxes. These meso predators “play a really important role in urban areas,

Now Displaced by New York’s Gentrification: Feral Cats

There are believed to be about 500 feral cat colonies in New York. Many, like West Street Whiskers in Greenpoint, are now under threat from gentrification and encroaching city development.From left, Robert Benfatto, the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen Business Improvement District director; Gary Granger, an Urban Cat League volunteer; and City Councilman Corey Johnson, by a lot on 37th Street where a cat colony is being displaced.

posted by: fastdriver on July 9, 2018  9:18pm

With the grass at the East Shore Park looking like a midwestern hay field, God only knows what’s living in there besides ticks!

posted by: EveyHammond on July 9, 2018  10:24pm

Malloy and Harp should tax them! That will teach them to try and take up residency in NH, CT. What makes them think they can invade our State and live off the land?

Oh, the city and state governments 😂😂😂

posted by: robn on July 10, 2018  7:04am

1644 FTW!

posted by: NHPLEB on July 10, 2018  7:05am

@T-ski:  spoken like a true cafone.  It’s folks like you talking about blasting away   that make anti-gun folks crazy.

posted by: ceeaware on July 10, 2018  10:21am

Urban coyotes stalk and attack not only pets, but people, children on a national basis-there are daily media reports on pet attacks and a human is reported at least attacked weekly on average.  Do not believe animal rights propaganda that coyotes do not attack humans.  Urban coyotes have become progressively more aggressive and dangerous and will not only jump into yards to kill pets, but will rip dogs off of leashes and kill them while the owners are frantically trying to save them.  They will grab kids and try to drag them out of their parents’ arms.  They need to be removed and kept removed. “Co-existence” is an idiotic animal rights policy designed to generate donations from emotional, gullible animal lovers and this policy has led to the coyote overpopulation and dangerous situation we have now.  They are not fuzzy pets, they are dangerous carnivorous predators and pack hunters.  Further on the East Coast, there has been a serious uptick in the incidence of rabies in the coyote population.  The USDA will send in Federal Trappers to remove coyotes and keep them removed.  Residents and their pets have a right to be safe in their neighborhoods and parks. May 2018
The concept of “the coyotes were here first” is patently absurd and again is PETA fake information.  Humans predate coyotes, but that is irrelevant.  Throughout civilization, humans have kept predators out of their communities.  Lions, tigers, bears, coyotes, hyenas, big cats, wild dogs have been removed from human areas.  Can you imagine encouraging lions to roam around a community killing livestock and children?  Coyotes are fine for the prairie, but they have no business in town.  Wasps and rattlesnakes predate man, but we do not encourage them to nest on our patios.

posted by: 1644 on July 10, 2018  11:01am

ceeaware:  You are ridiculously alarmist.  Suburbanites have been living with coyotes, and now bobcats, cougars, and bears, for decades.  Yes, cats disappear, but that’s about it.  I don’t know of any human who has been attached by a coyote.  I do know that since my neighbors cleared the brush where, I believe, a coyote had taken residence, the woodchucks’ damage to my garden has increased.  As for the coyotes themselves,  they have never shown the slightest interest in attacking me.

Wendy:  Humans are the weediest species of all.  That’s why we have gone from less than a billion at the time of my grandmother’s birth, to three billion at my birth,  to about 8 billion today, and still growing.  Human population growth is the prime driver for the environmental problems we have today, yet one we don’t confront.

posted by: JCFremont on July 10, 2018  11:34am

@OvertheRiver: So apparently Tweed has been up and running before the influx of coyotes, so I would place the blame on all those new condo’s and homes in East Haven and Brandford.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 10, 2018  3:39pm

@JCFremont There are three issues here.

The first is the wildlife fence that Tweed installed amidst one of its failed campaigns to extend the runway, which left a lasting impression on local and migratory wildlife. As far as coyotes are concerned, all signs point to more of them in neighboring backyards and streets. But, like much else Tweed, we only have the “crazy neighbors” and anecdotal evidence.

The second is the other development you refer to… Our shorelines have certainly seen a rise in development, often not for “ordinary” people.

The third is the neglect of East Shore parks and other grounds. As we continue to live through Harp City austerity measures, that will continue to feed the coyote problem.

posted by: JCFremont on July 11, 2018  10:24am

Actually Sean, the development of humble houses like yours and ours are more of an affect on migratory habits of wildlife. If East Shore where to dotted with only a few homes like the Townsend Estate would be less intrusive than all our capes, colonials and split levels. Those who lived in rural areas no matter their economic statues, took care of wild life management, in the form of a gun.I suppose your goal to have Tweed fail and close will return East Shore and Morris Cove into nature preserve. I’m sure the calls to “cut the grass at East Shore Park.” is way down on the prostesting Harps “austerity.”. “Wealthy” Woodbridge is doing the same at the former Woodbridge Country Club because of the cost. Long ago parks where natural preserves the Olmsted vision, not the Moses vision of ball fields and playgrounds.

posted by: BevHills730 on July 11, 2018  10:59am

Coyotes are cute but they are also a menace.  They kill pets, and help the spread of Lyme disease.  Unfortunately their population is growing.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 11, 2018  11:45am

@JCFremont Your attempts to bring my home into this and read my mind are increasingly bizarre, but I’m getting quite used to the rabid responses from Tweed’s zealots who are on the hunt for heretics in every forum (on and offline).

I applaud urban meadows and fields of wildflowers, and I believe strongly in ecological diversity.  I don’t use pesticides and chemical fertilizers or yearn for “the perfect lawn”.  Our parks do need upkeep, not just for the people who live in the East Shore but for the hundreds who pack the parks to capacity nearly every summer weekend and holiday.  There is plenty of room for ballfields as well as meadows and marshes, and compromises can be made to protect the species and ecosystems we have now.

It’s hard work, made much harder when staff and budget cuts squeeze an already-overburdened Dept. of Parks, Recreation, and Trees.  And, if we get hit by heavy storms this season, lack of upkeep during good weather could compound an already-dangerous and difficult situation.

Come down and see for yourself what a sorry state our parks are in… there’s an unmistakable pattern of broken fences and disrepair.  The damage that’s building up has a cumulative effect that could be felt over the span of years, such as trees that are being choked out by vines; something I know neighbors are organizing to take care of themselves.  Of course, there are great projects like the butterfly garden (which relies upon the hard work of volunteers).

posted by: mcap on July 11, 2018  3:47pm

According to a comprehensive study of coyote attacks on humans from Ohio State (published in 2017), there have been a total of 367 reported attacks by coyotes on humans between 1977 - 2015. Over the stated 38 year period, that equates to approx. 9.6 attacks a year. Not quite the daily reports mentioned in a comment above.

It is the true that the rate of coyote attacks on pets (in particular) and humans has increased over that 38 year period, but there is no statistical evidence for daily or weekly attacks by coyotes on humans.

Mitigation strategies for coyotes in urban areas are required, and the removal of problem animals may be necessary. But the data does not support a wholesale eradication of coyotes from urban areas.

posted by: steve on July 11, 2018  3:47pm

Yet another complaint regarding Tweed, the effect on wildlife along with global warming, respiratory illnesses, flooding and a host of other undocumented claims by those who choose to move near the airport way after Tweed was established. I am sure when the runway is upgraded, these imaginary posts will fade away as some of the anti Tweed posters might even use the airport much to their surprise that the sky did not fall and life will go on with some minor traffic changes.

posted by: Sean O'Brien on July 11, 2018  4:06pm

@steve “when the runway is upgraded”. Do you know something we don’t?

posted by: 1644 on July 12, 2018  9:08pm

BevHills:  Deer are the primary reservoir of Lyme disease.  Rodents are the secondary reservoir.  Coyotes kill both.

posted by: JCFremont on July 16, 2018  11:01am

@Sean, Not bring your home into it? It’s all about the home you brought next to an airport and would rather it not fly planes out of it. That is your mindset.Before the fence where all coyotes staying with in the airport perimeter? If the airport becomes commercial there will be a fence. if it is another park New Haven can not afford to maintain there will be coyotes. How about they just let it go like the old Marlin Estate property on Townsend?