Coyote, fisher cat attacks reported in Saugus

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Coyote, fisher cat attacks reported in Saugus

There have been reports of coyotes killing deer and attacking a dog in Saugus in recent weeks. File photo

Reports of coyotes attacking a Wheaten terrier and a fisher cat charging at a woman have Canine/Animal Control Officer Harold Young urging residents to be aware of their surroundings and to exercise caution.

On March 20 coyotes attacked a Wheaten terrier off Altamount Avenue, causing serious injuries. The dog survived and is currently under a 45-day quarantine.

A few weeks later another caller from the Altamount Avenue area reported that four to five coyotes were staring down at her dog in a dog pen. Young advised the resident that the fence should be at least 6 feet tall as coyotes can clear a 4-foot obstacle.

Last week an Athens Drive resident reported that a fisher cat ran toward her and grabbed her pant leg, Young said. She managed to beat the fisher cat off with a stick and avoided being bitten or scratched by the animal.

Following the Athens Drive incident Young headed out to the neighborhood to look for the fisher cat in case it was rabid. He left public health notices about rabies for homeowners as a precaution.

Over the last month Young has dealt with three incidents of coyotes apparently taking down deer in Saugus.

On March 9 an Essex Street resident reported hearing yelping outside and then spotting a fawn torn apart in her yard.

“They [coyotes] cleaned it down to the bone,” Young said.

One week later an Indian Rock Drive resident called about a pack of coyotes that killed an adult deer. He heard sounds of a struggle at night and a picked-apart carcass was all that was left the next morning.

And on March 18 Young was taking a Saugus High School student around on Shadow Day when a call came in for coyotes that brought down a deer on Donna Road.

Young told the Advertiser it’s unusual to have so many direct wildlife encounters with coyotes — as well as the fisher cat — in such a short period of time.

“It’s been a really tough winter and the wildlife is hungry,” Young said.

The reports of coyotes killing deer came when the ground was still packed with snow, Young said, noting that likely aided the predators because deer can’t run as fast in snow.

March and April are mating season for coyotes and the animals are typically more active at that time of year, according to Young.

Young advised residents to keep an eye out when outside for wildlife. That includes being alert during daytime hours.

“It’s not unusual to see these animals during the day anymore,” Young said. “Some people think that wildlife only comes out at night and that’s not true.”

In addition to being wary about surroundings, Young recommended that residents refrain from putting food or trash outside until the pickup day as one way to cut down on brushes with unwanted wildlife. Hungry critters are more likely to be attracted by the smell and come investigating, he said.

Owners should also make sure their pets are vaccinated and supervise them so they aren’t outside alone, Young said.

Coyotes are protected by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and Young said he is limited in what he can do responding to coyote complaints.

If someone encounters a coyote or another animal that is acting sick (lethargic, paralysis, seizing, disoriented or aggressive) they are encouraged to call canine control at 781-231-4176 or Environmental Police at 617-727-6398.

Young said coyote sightings seem to be on the upswing in town. A female can produce four to eight puppies in a litter and once the young grow up they head out looking for their own territory.

“We have to get used to them, coyotes are here and they’re here to stay,” Young said.

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