Penniman Lane Residents Concerned about Prevalence of Wild Coyotes
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, September 4, 2009
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- An all too friendly coyote causing alarm for residents along Penniman Lane in the last couple of weeks, will be put down, the town's animal control officer said.
Residents along the street have complained about seeing an abnormal number of coyotes in the area and have expressed concerns that one in particular is getting a little too close for comfort.
Animal Control Officer Pete MacKinnon told selectmen this week that coyotes, in general, do not pose a threat to humans.
However the coyote that has been spotted lounging in a backyard of a home on Penniman Lane appears to be suffering from mange and, as result, will need to be put down.
"We are going to have to trap or kill the animal," MacKinnon said. "There is no rehab with a coyote with mange."
Mange is contagious skin diseases caused by parasitic mites that, if untreated, will result in death.
"The issue with all wild animals is when they get certain diseases they act outside of their normal behavior patterns," said Hampton Police Chief Jamie Sullivan.
MacKinnon, Sullivan and Sgt. Jeff Marston of N.H. Fish & Game, spoke at the Aug. 31 selectmen's meeting in an attempt to ease residents' concerns about the growing problem of coyotes in the area.
"This is nothing new," Sullivan said. "Coyotes have been in town for a substantial period of time."
Marston said the reason coyotes are being spotted more often is because breeding season is over and coyotes have to feed their young.
"This is the time when you see them often because they have to hunt continuously to feed their pups," Marston said. "As far as any danger to humans, they don't attack humans. They are opportunistic, and they are just looking for a quick snack."
MacKinnon said coyotes will not attack anything that may hurt them.
"They don't have workers compensation," MacKinnon joked. "If they get hurt, they are going to starve."
MacKinnon said the coyotes hanging around Penniman Lane are probably the third generation of the breed that grew up in the area of what was formally the Hampton Playhouse on Winnacunnet Road.
"The owners of the Playhouse used to feed the coyotes," MacKinnon said. "They used to buy two to three pounds of chicken. They were both from Manhattan, and they thought it was unbelievable that they could get pictures of coyotes eating chicken."
Coyotes, MacKinnon said, are driven by a food source and this group has grown up knowing that there is food there.
"They have lost their fear of humans because now they associate humans as a source of food," MacKinnon said. "Why would a coyotes want to stay on White's Lane where he has to run after his own food where he can just wait in a backyard at Penniman Lane where the animals will come to them?"
Sullivan said when residents see a coyote they should use the same caution as they would with any other wild animal.
"Residents should contact police if there is indication that the animal is ill, sick, disoriented or confused" Sullivan said. "Any behavior that is outside the norm for a wild animal, we want to hear about it"
The only reason why the coyote on Penniman Lane is being put down is because it is sick.
"It's not going to be our position to track down healthy animals and euthanize them," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said if residents have concerns about coyotes in there neighborhood they should remove all potential food sources, such as bird feeders from there backyards.
MacKinnon said coyotes are attracted to those bird feeders.
"The bird feed gets in the grass and draws mice, rats, chipmunks, squirrels and other small animals that coyotes eat," MacKinnon said. "When I told Chief Sullivan this, he said putting a bird feeder in your backyard is like putting a McDonald's drive-thru (for coyotes) in your backyard."
Sullivan also recommends keeping small pets inside during this season. Officials said coyotes are responsible for the regular disappearance of outdoor cats and road kill on the streets.
"The reason why you don't see road kill is not because the public works are picking it up every night, it's because coyotes are like vacuum cleaners," MacKinnon said.
Sullivan said anyone who wants to learn more about coyotes can visit the department's Web site at www.hamptonpd.com, which has a link to a NH Fish & Game fact sheet on coyotes and other wild animals.
A resident shot a video of the coyote in question on Penniman Lane just lounging in their back yard and its now on Youtube.com. To check it out visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6v56N3LFqDI