As mating season approaches, an increasing number of coyotes have been spotted around Salem.
According to Don Famico, a Salem animal control officer, there have been about a half dozen reported sightings in the last two weeks.
“They’re coming out a little bit more,” Famico said. “They’re around, but usually they pretty much keep to themselves. If they’re rabid, they will attack, but in most cases they shy away. They’re looking for food is my guess.”
The coyotes come down the railroad beds along power lines and gridlines and typically roam around Salem Willows and the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School, along with other wooded areas, Famico added.
Although there hasn’t been any negative interaction, some residents have come face-to-face with a coyote, the wolf-life animal typically known for its long, black-tipped tail.
Salem resident Ray Mount, 66, has had two such experiences. Mount usually walks his medium-sized French herding dog, Nia, around 11 o’clock each night. Between Christmas and New Years, Mount noticed a coyote near Salem Willows. That particular coyote hesitated a moment and ran away, Mount said. But about two nights later, Mount said two other coyotes came too close for comfort.
“One of them was intimidating, so I stopped my course and backed up with the dog, who was pulling on the leash and wanted to play with them,” Mount said. “I backed up and walked into my house fearing the thing was going to come after me.”
If a resident comes into contact, or sees a coyote, Famico said, he or she should make uninviting noises and throw things to make them move on.
“I kiddingly tell people they’re not coming down to watch television with you,” Famico said. “They’re coming down because you’re feeding your pets outside, your trash is outside. Basically they’re after food.”
In other recent incidents, locals have notified the police if they’ve seen a coyote. Officials will then send a cruiser down to check out the area.
“We immediately dispatch a cruiser and will dispatch an animal control officer,” said Lt. Conrad Prosniewski with the Salem Police Department. “Even with raccoons and skunks and rabies going around, anything that looks out of the ordinary, even an animal off its leash, people should be weary and give us a call. “
Prosniewski added that by the time officers get to the scene, the animal has usually run off. Last year, he said, a coyote was struck and hit by a car on North Street and “had to be destroyed because of its injuries.”
“You can hear the coyotes howling,” Prosniewski said. “They’re around.”