February is coyote breeding season, and with the increase in attacks in neighboring towns, residents should keep an eye out for wandering coyotes.
According to Winchester Animal Control Officer Jerry Smith, coyotes will be more territorial this time of the year.
“Right now it’s mating season,” Smith said. “Pretty soon they’ll be out hunting.”
According to Smith, coyotes are normally shy and elusive, but when they're in the mating season they become protective and will attack dogs of any size.
“Don’t put small dogs or cats out at night,” Smith said. “If you have a small dog be sure to keep an eye on it.”
With all the housing projects, Smith said it’s not uncommon to see coyotes in different areas.
“With the new developments, the coyotes are forced to move,” Smith said. “People who may have not seen them before in their neighborhood may start seeing them.”
According to Smith, coyotes are fearful of humans, so keeping your dog close by should keep coyotes at a safe distance. And don’t be surprised if you see coyotes during the day.
“They’re out during the day and night,” Smith said. “They hunt at night and during the day; they’re not nocturnal.”
But, Smith said, the reason coyotes may appear more aggressive and are frequenting neighborhoods more often is due to a growing family. However, coyotes have been in the area for a while, mostly near wooded areas like the Middlesex Fells Reservation or over by the Winchester Country Club, and Smith said that with the proper precautions, residents have nothing to fear.
“Just keep an eye on your pets,” Smith said. “They’ll be coming out more and more as we get closer to spring, so you need to be careful with your pets.”