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Nahant extends deal with federal wildlife experts to shoot and kill coyotes

A coyote runs into the woods after crossing a road near a residential neighborhood in West Falmouth.Stephen Rose/Associated Press

Professional sharpshooters hired by the town of Nahant in December to kill aggressive coyotes in the small seaside town have so far “removed” one coyote and will remain on the job for another year, town officials said.

The town opted to extend its agreement with the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to March 2024, authorizing the agency to shoot and kill coyotes that have threatened the safety of residents.

“The Town’s goal is to eliminate habituated coyotes that have been aggressive toward residents and thus increase public safety,” town officials said in a statement Tuesday.

In December, the town entered a cooperative service agreement with the agency to manage the coyote population after multiple complaints from residents. Coyotes attacked leashed pets on at least three occasions and last fall several residents reported that they were surrounded by coyotes while walking their pets.


There are an estimated six to 12 coyotes in Nahant, “more than what Mass. Wildlife considers typical for a 1-square-mile suburban environment,” town officials said.

The move, which has the support of the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, made Nahant the first community in Massachusetts to deal with aggressive coyotes through the federal partnership.

Agents from Wildlife Services have made two visits to Nahant since November “and have removed one coyote,” town officials said. The agents are trained experts equipped with night-vision goggles, thermal-imaging scopes, trail cameras, and weapons with silencers, officials said.

State law prohibits the relocation of aggressive coyotes and Nahant’s residential density “almost entirely precludes” the option of allowing recreational hunting, town officials said. Trapping coyotes is also difficult, as the only legal trap for coyotes in Massachusetts, the box cage trap, has successfully captured just three coyotes in the last 10 years statewide.

There have been no reports of aggressive coyotes since November, but officials warned residents that coyote pupping season — when young pups leave their parents’ territory and strike out on their own — peaks in March and the animals “can become particularly territorial and aggressive during this time.”


“Countless communities across the state face issues with habituated coyotes and problem animals, and the other legal options are not effective,” Select Board chair Gene Canty said. “As a board we will continue to educate residents on the importance of coexisting with coyotes as we work toward finding a balance that maintains public safety.”

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.