SOUTHWICK, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Spring has finally sprung and everyone – including wild animals – is out enjoying the warmer weather.
For one resident, that meant a frightening encounter with some coyotes last week. While driving on North Loomis Street, a small pack of coyotes crossed the road in front of her, then another ran into her vehicle.
Animal Control Officer Tracy Root said while meeting wild animals can be scary, residents should not be alarmed. Instead, they should use caution and be prepared. “They are out hunting at this time of year,” Root said about the coyotes. “They are getting ready to have their pups and it was a hard winter, so they are hungry.”
Root said seeing coyotes in Southwick is not unusual, even in the daytime. “Unless they are sick-looking, people should keep their distance and enjoy nature,” she said.
Root said there are also coy dogs that look like coyotes, and there are even some coyotes in this area with wolf DNA.
“Those are bigger than regular coyotes,” she said. “People should not panic, but they should watch out for their small animals,” Root said.
“Don’t let small dogs out at night – a hungry coyote will take a cat or small dog.”
Root said keep dogs on leash when taking walks, including on the Southwick Rail Trail.
“You can also carry a whistle or make a loud noise, because usually that will scare them away,” said Root. She added that some coyotes and other wild animals have been here so long that they are used to seeing people and may not be easily frightened.
Bears are another springtime concern. Root said over the weekend, a bear destroyed a resident’s entire chicken coop. “It got all the chickens,” said Root. The coop was located on College Highway near the covered bridge. Root said bears are out with their cubs searching for food.
“The problem is that we have taken so much of their land,” she said. “We are in their front yard and they have nowhere to go to find food. They hunt small animals such as mice in winter, but there was so much snow cover it was hard for them to find food.”
Root said taking precautions, such as locking up trash barrels and keeping small animals indoors at night, will help keep animals away from residences. “This is nature at its best,” she said. Root did say if anyone sees a sick-looking wild animal or has an unusual encounter they should contact her office at 413-569-5348.
Media Credit: The Westfield News