OSSINING, N.Y. -- Ossining police called in a trapper this week after two residents reported having run-ins with a coyote.
Police Chief Kevin Slyvester, who posted a warning about the incidents on the department’s Facebook page, said authorities want to convey the seriousness of the situation without causing the public undue alarm.
One of the residents told police that an “aggressively acting” coyote had come at her while she was walking her dog at Mystic Pointe, a gated community off Route 9 in the village. Just hours later, another resident called from North Water Street, which is less than 2 miles away, to report another scary interaction with what may have been the same animal.
Sylvester noted that Westchester has all sorts of wild critters, ranging from bears and foxes to raccoons and coyotes.
“They were here first,” the chief said.
Ossining checked in with the state Department of Environmental Conservation and got the thumbs-up to call in the trapper, Sylvester said.
As of Tuesday, a rainy and damp fall day, the crafty canine was still MIA.
Frank Vincenti, head of the Wild Dog Foundation, is a self-taught expert on the behavior of coyotes.
While all coyote-human interactions should be avoided, Vincenti said, running into one of the animals does not necessarily mean that it’s acting in an aggressive manner.
This is the time of year when coyote “yearlings” -- the animal world’s version of teen-agers -- are likely to be kicked out of the family group. Although grown, they aren’t totally self-sufficient and may also still be traveling with their parents.
On their own, these juveniles roam around looking for a territory to stake out, Vinceni said.
“They sometimes pop up on a trail just because they heard the jingling of a dog leash and they’re curious,” Vincenti said, adding: “I know this might sound silly, but they see another doglike creature, and they could just be lonely.”
Just like their domesticated cousins, aggressive coyotes have obvious “tells,” he said.
“The ears go up, the tail goes up and their hackles (back hair) rise. It’s no different than a dog,” he explained.
An angry or alarmed coyote might also make a “chuffing” sound, much like a bear does, to send out the message: “Don’t come any closer.”
Human-coyote confrontations seem to go down at this time of year, Vincenti said, because it’s hunting season.
“Believe it or not, like deer, they tend to stay out of sight more, cause they don’t want to get shot; they’re not stupid,” he said.
Whatever the situation, police want to keep the community as informed and as safe as possible, Sylvester said Tuesday.
Last spring, Vincenti was called to give an informational talk in Mount Kisco after two family pets were attacked by a coyote -- one of them, fatally -- in nearby New Castle.
In the meantime, there are a few things residents do to minimize interactions:
- Be vigilant when walking pets, especially small animals, and keep them on a leash.
- Keep all garbage secured, preferably indoors.
- Do not leave pet food outdoors.
- Limit potential hiding places for animals like wood piles. Seal off spaces underneath decks and porches.
According to coyotesmarts.org , coyotes are timid and usually flee at the sight of a human, but if you spot old Wiley lounging in your yard, or actually approaching people or pets, do the following:
- Be as big and loud as possible. Don't run or turn your back, that gives them the green light to chase you.
- Wave your arms, clap your hands and shout.
- Bang pots and pans or use an air horn or whistle.
- Throw small stones, sticks, tennis balls or anything else you can lay your hands on.
- Spray with a hose or a squirt gun filled with water and vinegar.
- Shake or throw a “coyote shaker” -- a can filled with pennies or pebbles and sealed with duct tape.