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April 13, 2010

Animal expert gives lowdown on coyotes

DANVERS — Heard the howling at night? That's just one of the area's most mysterious inhabitants — the coyote.

John Maguranis, an animal control officer in Belmont, will give a presentation called "Living With Coyotes" on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Endicott Park Carriage House in Danvers. He'll discuss the coyote's diet, habits and behavior. We caught up with Maguranis to learn more.

What are coyotes' natural habitat?

Eastern coyotes can live just about everywhere. They are in every city and town in Mass.

What brings them to towns and cities?

They are wolf-hybrids. They are a mixture of the Western coyote and wolf and are in the process of an evolution. As these animals progress in the creation of their own species, they are filling in. Their numbers aren't exploding, but as they breed, their pups grow up and are looking for different territories. Because their diets are so vast, they can live everywhere.

Are they dangerous to humans?

I leave that for people to decide. They have been in Mass. for 60 years, and there have only been three bites reported — two of which had rabies. If you compare them to dogs, dogs are a hundred times more dangerous to humans. But it is possible.

Are coyotes dangerous to cats and dogs?

Yes! Cats and small dogs they would look at as a prey. Large dogs are pretty much safe, except in January and February when they are mating; they might look at the large dog as competition and they might attack. Up until a month ago, there had been no dogs attacked when they were on a leash. On the Cape, a lady reported a coyote bit her dog when he was on the leash.

What does it mean when they howl or yip?

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