Coyotes over the past week have killed a dog in Cohasset and twice approached people and their pets in Hingham in the latest sign of their growing presence in the Boston suburbs.
Leslie Badger, the animal control officer in Hingham, said that in both instances, the same young, healthy coyote tracked the scent of residents’ pets, which is normal coyote behavior. On Tuesday morning, it followed a 10-year-old girl as she walked her dog.
“Both scenarios between the [two] people screaming and running away and neighbors coming out running and screaming” caused the coyote to run off, Badger said. “These are encounters, not attacks.”
In Cohasset, a dog was fatally mauled by a coyote last week in a backyard, Police Chief William Quigley said Wednesday. It was the second time coyotes had killed a dog in Cohasset since Aug. 27, when coyotes left a dog with injuries so severe it had to be euthanized and later that morning attacked a man and his pets.
“Its injuries were too much for the dog, and the dog ultimately needed to be euthanized,” the town’s Natural Resources Officer, Joshua Kimball, said by e-mail. Over the past month, the town has issued advisories about coyote safety and held meetings with residents about the issue, he said.
A dog was also killed by a coyote over the summer in Sudbury, police Chief Scott Nix said Wednesday.
“We indeed had such an unfortunate incident,” Nix said via e-mail. “We have not had any further incidents that tragic that I am aware of. Given the dynamics of Sudbury, residents experience involvement with wildlife in a benign manner regularly, but again, not in such a tragic way.”
Coyotes killed dogs in Concord and Wayland this summer, police said.
In Hingham, Badger said the neighborhood was already on alert after a coyote encounter last week. Town officials have been stepping up neighborhood patrols when students are heading to and from school and so far there have been “no issues, everyone has gotten home safely, whether on foot, bike, etc.”
Authorities are also following up with the people involved in the two encounters to provide information on licensed agents who can “come in to trap or hunt coyotes at the neighborhood’s expense.”
Residents are advised to supervise children and pets when outside, especially in areas where there have been frequent coyote sightings. They also should do what they can to scare off the animals, who have become increasingly accustomed to humans.
“Instead of stopping to take pictures or videos yell, scream, beep [the] horn, spray with a hose, throw something to keep [them] moving and afraid,” Badger said. “They get comfortable and the fear of humans becomes less if they are allowed to run by you with no consequences, that is why they will stop or slowly trot and look at you as they go by.”
For the past decade or so, coyotes have essentially reached a saturation point, state experts said. Outside of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, they are in every single city and town in Massachusetts and at close to peak density.
Lethal traps, snares, and non-lethal foothold traps were banned by 54 percent of voters in a 1996 ballot question, and live box traps — the only type still legal — are considered so ineffective that the ban eliminated trapping as a feasible option for coyote control. Between 2014 and 2020, only three coyotes were reported trapped in the state.
“This number of coyotes is what we are going to have indefinitely,” Dave Wattles, the coyote expert at MassWildlife, told the Globe in February. “People need to get used to that idea.”
Each year only about 600 coyotes are killed, out of a population estimated between 10,000 and 12,000, officials say.
There are only two ways to deal with coyotes, Wattles said. Removing their source of food and harassing them back into the woods, away from people and out of backyards, where they eat bird seed, compost, garbage, and pets.
MassWildlife says coyotes can thrive in suburban, urban, and rural areas, utilizing whatever natural food is available, such as small animals, birds, insects, and fruits, as well as artificial sources. The agency warns people not to deliberately provide food for coyotes, which will attract them to your property.
“Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause coyotes to act tame and may lead to bold behavior,” the site says. “Coyotes that rely on natural foods remain wild and wary of humans.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.
Travis Andersen can be reached at email@example.com.