Skip Navigation
 
This table is used for column layout.
Town Seal
BrowseAloud
Connect CTY Logo
Link to Belmont GIS
Coyote Information
Animal Control Launches an Interactive Coyote Tracking System

June 2011:  Residents can now plot on a Belmont map coyote sightings or encounters without having to "sign in".  Residents can click on the link on the Animal Control main webpage or click here to record your sighting: http://www.mapsonline.net/belmontma/forms/insert.html.php?id=281432004 

A new map overlay has also been developed so residents can see where and when coyote activity has happened.  Click here to see the map, but please follow these instructions:




Once the map opens, click on the tab “Map Layers”:

Capture1.JPG

Then scroll down and click on “Coyote Sightings”:

Capture2.JPG

To view information on a particular coyote marker, click on the info tab, then click on the coyote icon.  Use the other tabs to manipulate the map to your liking:

Capture3.JPG





Keep Pets Close During Coyote Breeding Season

December 29, 2010

January and February is coyote breeding season. Residents who enjoy walking their dogs in our open spaces are cautioned again this year to be wary of coyotes. 

Coyotes are normally shy and elusive, but when they're in the mating season they become territorial and may attack dogs of any size. Belmont has had four dogs attacked over the years, two of which were killed. 

Simple precautions should avoid any encounters such as keeping your dog leashed at all times. Coyotes have a healthy fear of humans, so keeping your dog close by should keep coyotes at a safe distance. 

Most folks who have seen coyotes this past fall disagree with them being shy and elusive, as I have many reports from residents who believe the coyotes were following or stalking them. In the fall, pups from the spring litters are given freedom to explore their surroundings by the parents; they're quite curious by then and have been known to follow people and/or stand and stare at walkers. It may appear to people that they're bold or "brazen" as I've read before, but I have not encountered a coyote in and around Belmont that didn't eventually run away when I approached them.

If you're nervous about coyotes, carry a stick. But waving your arms and yelling at them is becoming more and more ineffective, as this is the method that has been promoted for a long time by many animal organizations and I believe these intelligent creatures have learned that this gesturing from us is non-threatening. All I've ever had to do to scare a coyote away was walk toward it. They eventually run away.

Coyotes have been spotted in almost every area of town, so don't think they're only in areas where woods are nearby. 

When letting your dogs out in your yard, always turn a light on and look out there first. Never let them out without keeping an eye on them if you don't have a fenced in back yard. Large breed dogs are somewhat safer in regards to surviving an attack, but not small breed dogs.

This article is not to instill fear, but rather educate. Coyotes have been in and around us for quite a long time and we've had very few incidents since residents were informed of their natural behaviors.

Enjoy the open spaces Belmont has to offer, just do it with a little common sense and there should be no problems. Keep your pets leashed, vaccinated and licensed; don't feed wildlife (a BIG no-no) and please keep your cats indoors.

Please don't hesitate to call or e-mail the Animal Control Officer if you have any questions, want to report sightings or desire more information. 

John Maguranis can be reached at: 617-993-2724 or jmaguranis@Belmont-Ma.gov




Belmont's Wildlife Is Growing; Cats Lament

With the efficient hunter fisher moving closer to town, residents should know more about the animals that visit each night.
By Len Abram | Email the author |  August 10, 2010  

When evening falls, a second shift – like the night crew at a factory – reports for work.

For them, it's time to search for food and maybe once or twice a year, a mate.

For those of us who open a refrigerator or a water tap to satisfy our hunger or thirst, the wildlife that exists near us – even here in the leafy suburb of Belmont – must fight or forage daily. Sometimes we catch sight of them on the prowl, their eyes reflected like marbles in our headlights, or smell a skunk or see the litter from a rifled rubbish barrel in the morning.

Skunks, opossums, foxes, coyotes or weasels head out from their burrows when most of us are settling in for supper, recreation and sleep.

And entering this mix are the fishers, also known as fisher cats, although they belong to the weasel family. Fishers are known for their hair-raising cry and as an efficient and expert hunter of small animals such as rabbits and squirrels, as they are expert climbers.

And as fishers – the males grow to 10 to 12 pounds and reach 40 inches including their long 15-inch tail – enter the suburbs, they will add slow moving and over fed suburban house cats to their menu. Already suburban towns just to the west and north of Belmont such as Needham, Andover and Wakefield have reported cats gone missing as fisher presence in those communities rise.

One thing is for sure; wild animals are here to stay.

John Maguranis, Belmont's Animal Control Officer, has been on the job for nine years, after retiring after 20 years in the U.S. Army, as a veterinary technician.  Belmont Patch talked recently with Magarunis about fishers, coyotes, and all the other "critters" with which we share our streets and parks.

Belmont Patch: Fishers – which seldom eat fish, but rely on squirrels, rabbits and mice – have made a comeback in New England, along with the coyote. How can we learn to live with them?"

Maguranis: Both are interesting animals and so different. Both survive by eating nearly anything. The fisher is solitary except in mating season. Coyotes are social and usually belong to a small family.

Again, the public would do itself good to learn more about these animals. Education is key. I know this is happening because we get fewer calls about sightings. Wild animals can peacefully coexist with humans as long as we follow simple, common sense rules. 

For example, never feed wildlife; keep your outdoor spaces cleaned up from trash; leash and vaccinate your pets, cats, again, should never be let out alone; and familiarize yourself with basic behaviors of animals.

Q: There are more sightings of wild animals in our neighborhoods. Certainly cats that used to wander our streets do so at considerable risk. How should we react to what some might consider an intrusion?

A: People need to be more compassionate. We have to realize that Massachusetts loses on average 40 acres a day to development. There's a whole lot of wildlife in 40 acres and they're trying to survive like the rest of us in an ever-shrinking world.  Wildlife takes care of itself; it gets messed up when we alter the ecology. That's one reason they are coming to our neighborhoods. Because of this, I don't recommend letting cats out anymore.

Q: What should we do when we see animals near our houses?

A: Enjoy them. When people see a coyote, deer, fisher, weasel or fox in their backyard, don't get scared unless the animal appears aggressive. Instead take the opportunity to snap some pictures! Get your kids involved and look-up the critter you saw and learn about it. Wildlife viewing can be a great family activity and the more you learn about the animals you see around your home, the less you'll fear them.

Q: If predator populations grow to more than the food supply can support, do you see a day when trapping or hunting coyotes and fishers will be encouraged?

A: Wild animals are self-regulating. When population numbers of prey species drop, predators usually have fewer litters to accommodate this. I don't support trapping whatsoever, nor do I support hunting in an environment like Belmont. Animal Control is capable of dealing with almost any wildlife issue.

Q: One of the more difficult parts of your job is dealing with road kill or injuries, collisions between our technology and the wild.

A: Three or four animals each month are struck and killed on the town's streets. Once in a while the injured animals have to be euthanized, that is, killed, to save them from further suffering. If the animal can be saved, I take them to the nearest veterinary facility. Coyotes, for example, which can live seven to 10 years, have a fairly high mortality rate in dense urban areas due to traffic.

Animal Control is also concerned about orphaned animals. There are shelters that will nurse the young and then send them back to the wild. This year I've rescued 11-orphaned skunks, four raccoons, an opossum, two coyote pups and three ducklings from a sewer on Concord Avenue. Frankly, I can't remember them all.





Coyote/Fisher Update


11 November 21, 2006

As fall begins to give way to winter, residents are reminded that coyote breeding season will begin soon.  Some residents may be sick of hearing the same information, but it’s paid off, as no known pets have been preyed on by coyotes the last 3 years. This coexistence has been achieved because residents have had accurate, up to date information and education regarding coyote natural behavior. It is the goal of the Health Department to continue to pass information along to the residents regularly in order to educate as many residents as possible.

Residents are again reminded that coyote breeding season resumes  during January and February.  Coyotes become territorial and more aggressive during this time and may attack pets if left unattended.  Residents are urged to be more stringent and observant with their pets and never leave them outside unattended.  All small pets are at risk throughout the year from being preyed on as a food source, but risks elevate during the breeding season because not only will they attack for food, they will also attack to defend territories.  

Compared to three years ago, very little notable coyote activity was evident this past summer and fall.  Two coyote pups were located this spring and tracked throughout the summer, however, both pups were recently killed by cars in Waltham just two days apart. It was remarkably quiet and uneventful this year.  I believe this can be explained based from observations and reports that coyote populations have leveled and territories established, thus keeping roaming coyotes away.  They’re still here, still being reported, but in much lower incidents than previous years.  

Fishers are now considered well established within the town, as at least four (two males and two females) have been killed by cars since January.  Fishers are in the weasel family and are very capable predators, nocturnal and arboreal.  They can climb trees extremely well, as they have special joints in their hind legs that allow them to maneuver up and down trees with ease.  Although no strong evidence has been found that supports predation of domestic cats by fishers, it would be safe to assume that cats would be easy prey for fishers and cat owners should take note of their existence in the area.

So far, coexisting with the eastern coyote has been attained.  Some are inconvenienced by their presence, but understand that they’re not going away.  I will continue to monitor them in every aspect of their behavior and movements and stand ready to take any appropriate action should an incident arise.

Residents are reminded to keep their pets licensed and vaccinated at all times, and NEVER leave any pets outside unattended.  Should you cross paths with a coyote, exhibit a threatening posture and throw something at it.  Yelling and waving your arms and charging work well.  We must remind the coyotes to have and keep fear of us in order to eliminate problem encounters.

A community educational program regarding coyotes will be given Wednesday January 10, 2007, from 7pm to 9pm in the assembly room of the Belmont Public Library on addressStreetConcord Ave.  The PowerPoint presentation depicts coyotes in placeCityBelmont and everything you need to know.  Presentation will be given by the Animal Control Officer.

Questions/concerns can be directed to John Maguranis, Belmont’s Animal Control Officer at 617-993-2724


Belmont Coyote Update
2 May, 2006
Belmont residents are reminded that coyotes are still living in and around Belmont.  Recently, a coyote was spotted numerous times on Taylor Road and vicinity, (see pictures below).  Residents are cautioned when letting their pets roam free.  Keep your pets vaccinated and up to date on all shots, especially rabies.  Spring marks the arrival of pups and with that, a higher food demand.  Coyotes may be seen foraging during daylight hours in effort to feed the growing brood. Coyotes are normally shy and will stear clear of humans.  Please call animal control if you have any questions or fears (617-993-2724).

DSC_0193.jpg
(©Photo by John P. Maguranis, Taylor RD)

DSC_0202.jpg
(©Photo by John P. Maguranis)

DSC_0222b.jpg
(©Photo by John P. Maguranis)

DSC_0237.jpg
(©Photo by John P. Maguranis)




Coyote Update


January 10, 2006

Some residents may be sick of hearing the same information, but it’s paid off, as no known pets have been preyed on by coyotes the last 2 years. This coexistence has been achieved because residents have had accurate, up to date information and education regarding coyote natural behavior. It is the goal of the Health Department to continue to pass information along to the residents regularly in order to educate as many residents as possible.

Residents are again reminded that coyote breeding season is in full swing, (January/February).  Coyotes become territorial and more aggressive during this time and may attack pets if left unattended.  Residents are urged to be more stringent and observant with their pets and never leave them outside unattended.  All small pets are at risk throughout the year from being preyed on as a food source, but risks elevate during the breeding season because not only will they attack for food, they will also attack to defend territories.  

Compared to two years ago, very little notable coyote activity was evident this past summer and fall.  It was remarkably quiet and uneventful this year.  I believe this can be explained based from observations and reports that coyote populations have leveled and territories established, thus keeping roaming coyotes away.  They’re still here, still being reported, but in much lower incidents than last year.  

A new predator has arrived in Belmont recently and may be more of a concern to cat and small pet owners than coyotes.  The fisher has been seen around town since May and one was recently hit by a car on Concord Avenue.  Recent tracks indicate at least one more is within the town borders.  More on fishers in a separate article, but residents should know that these animals are very capable predators, nocturnal and arboreal.  They have been known to take domestic cats and since they can climb trees extremely well, they should be considered a real danger to cats.

So far, coexisting with the eastern coyote has been attained.  Some are inconvenienced by their presence, but understand that they’re not going away.  I will continue to monitor them in every aspect of their behavior and movements and stand ready to take any appropriate action should an incident arise.

Residents are reminded to keep their pets licensed and vaccinated at all times, and NEVER leave any pets outside unattended.  Should you cross paths with a coyote, exhibit a threatening posture and throw something at it.  Yelling and waving your arms and charging work well.  We must remind the coyotes to have and keep fear of us in order to eliminate problem encounters.

Questions/concerns can be directed to John Maguranis, Belmont’s Animal Control Officer at 617-993-2724







Coyote Update

December, 2004

As we enter the Holidays, residents are reminded that coyote breeding season will soon begin, (January/February).  Coyotes become territorial and more aggressive during this time and may attack small pets if left unattended.  Residents are urged to be more stringent and observant with their pets and never leave them outside unattended.  All small pets are at risk throughout the year from being preyed on as a food source, but risks elevate during the breeding season because not only will they attack for food, they will also attack to defend territories as well.  Four such attacks took place last year on small dogs; we know they were territorial attacks because they didn’t consume the animal.

Compared to last year, very little notable coyote activity was evident this past summer and fall.  It was remarkably quiet and uneventful this year.  I believe this can be explained based from observations and reports that coyote populations have leveled and territories established, thus keeping roaming coyotes away.  They’re still here, still being reported, but in much lower incidents than last year.

Most residents have noticed the elevated populations of squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits this year, and I’m quite sure the coyotes have too.  Based on scat examinations, it’s apparent that local coyotes have been eating mostly rabbits, squirrels and assorted plant matter.  I’ve seen far less scat this year, as compared to last year which definitely indicates a decline in population numbers.

After much publicity regarding coyotes last year and before, local cats seen outside dropped dramatically and more and more residents heeded the warnings and brought them in.  I’ve noticed more and more cats outside lately and I attribute that to the lack of any recent media attention regarding coyotes.  Residents are urged to keep all small pets indoors and let as many people know regarding the dangers of small pets and coyotes.  Residents should also be advised that coyotes aren’t the only hazards to their pets, but also cars and diseases.  This past summer reflected a sharp and sad increase in pets being hit by cars, (both dogs and cats); another reminder that pets are simply safer indoors.

So far, coexisting with the eastern coyote has been attained.  Some are inconvenienced by their presence, but understand that they’re not going away.  I will continue to monitor them in every aspect of their behavior and movements and stand ready to take any appropriate action should an incident arise.

Residents are reminded to keep their pets licensed and vaccinated at all times, and NEVER leave any pets outside unattended.  Should you cross paths with a coyote, exhibit a threatening posture and throw something at it.  Yelling and waving your arms and charging work well.  We must remind the coyotes to have and keep fear of us in order to eliminate problem encounters.

Questions/concerns can be directed to John Maguranis, Belmont’s Animal Control Officer at 617-484-4687







Belmont residents are reminded that coyotes are living among us.  Coyote pups born this spring will have increasing food requirements and put higher demands on the parents who are feeding them.  Between July and September OF 2003, a total of 17 cats were believed to have been preyed upon by coyotes.  Coyotes learn quickly and it's expected that cats will be viewed as "easy prey".  Residents are urged to keep all small pets indoors or closely supervised; especially during evening hours. Pet owners are in complete control of the health and welfare of their pets.  Pets left unattended are at a high risk.  







A reprint from an article in the April 8, 2004 edition of the Belmont Citizen/Herald:  

Coyotes on Your Doorstep

Misleading data, newspaper stories and letters to the editor have escalated fears and sometimes skirted the facts about coyotes.  Statements like “exploding populations”, “not long before a child is bitten” and “live trap and remove” are misleading.  Know the facts about coyotes before you make judgments about them.

Coyotes are self regulating in terms of population.    They establish territories and home ranges and won’t allow other coyotes to enter.  Wild coyotes have been known to have a home range of over 70 miles, but recent research of urban coyotes show a roaming range of 10 to 15 miles, (up to 25 miles in some instances).  This is factual and recent information.  Small groups may be seen and easily mistaken as a “pack”, but it is almost certain to be a family group.  Coyote pups stay with the parents for at least a year.  They often stay and assist the adults to raise new litters and then leave on their own to find their own territories.  This is known as dispersing.  Dispersing pups may travel hundreds of miles before they find free territory to claim as their own.  Most will be hit by cars and never breed.

Killing, removing,  and trapping coyotes for “control” purposes will only open up free territory and food resources and encourage dispersed coyotes to move in.  Justifying the cost and town resources to remove something that will soon be back is not good policy.  Leg-hold traps, whether legal or not is out of the question.  There are far too many domestic pets that are running loose to use these inhumane traps in Belmont.  Not many are in favor of risking pets or wildlife chewing their legs off in order to escape a leg-hold trap.  Capture and release is illegal in Massachusetts and inhumane, therefore not even considered.  Not only would this open areas into which other coyotes would move, but it is transferring the problem to someone else’s backyard.

Coyote researcher Jonathan Way reports that getting a coyote in a box trap is extremely difficult and time consuming.  Coyotes are so cautious that he has to wire the trap open and leave bait at the opening for weeks, moving the meat a few inches at  time towards the inside of the trap.  It takes months to catch a coyote.

In regards to rabies, you have a much better chance of getting rabies from your pet cat than you do from a dog or coyote.  The last twelve years of rabies testing at the state lab proves it; 110 domestic cats positive for rabies, compared to 6 coyotes and 6 dogs.  Based on coyote natural behavior, it is safe to assume that the presence of coyotes may even reduce the incidence of rabies in our neighborhoods.  Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and tend to take the easy meal.  An animal who’s suffering from rabies would an easy kill for a coyote.  Rabies is passed in saliva through a bite; transmission does not usually occur through consumption.

The issue of children being safe in the backyard always comes up.  It sounds really good and is effective in causing fear, but statistically, it doesn’t come close to the real dangers of urban living.  A bite from a coyote has happened once in Massachusetts.  The possibility of being bitten by a coyote does exist, but the probability is quite low.  The Health Department and the Animal Control Officer is really more concerned about the many bites that occur from pet dogs and cats, some of which are not vaccinated.  Rest assured that if a coyote or any other animal bites, the Health Department and Animal Control Officer will take immediate and appropriate action.

Simple precautions are all it will take to coexist with coyotes.  Residents should never feed wildlife including coyotes.  If you see them in your yard, make a lot of noise until they run away.  Do not feed pets outdoors.  Supervise small and older pets and your children when they are outdoors.  No amount of work in the USA and Canada has ever eradicated the coyote and I do not think it would be a successful strategy here either.

John Maguranis
Belmont Animal Control Officer


Keep all pets vaccinated and licensed.  Coyotes are normally shy and avoid humans, but may become bolder if not scared away.  Yelling, charging or throwing water at coyotes is encouraged and is effective.  For additional information regarding coyotes, please call the Animal Control Officer at 617-993-7274.


Photo of Belmont
Belmont Town Offices  455 Concord Avenue, Belmont, MA 02478    PH: (617) 993-2600
Disclaimer       Privacy Policy       Virtual Towns & Schools Website       Photos by Will Bielitz and Jennifer Flanagan