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Coyote sightings at Newport park causing concern

The Newport Police Department on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, said they have been receiving complaints about coyotes hanging around Braga Park. (Submitted photo)

The Newport Police Department on Monday said they have been receiving complaints about coyotes hanging around Braga Park.

“Dog walkers are reporting that coyotes are walking very close and following them in the park,” authorities noted in a press release. “The coyotes have been observed lounging out in the open, near dwellings and have displayed no fear of humans. This behavior may be due to easy food sources in the area and people feeding them.”

NBC 10 News visited the park around 7:30 p.m. and saw a coyote roaming the area.

Bette Reed, who lives next to the park, said she carries pepper spray because of the coyotes.

She sees them from her home every day.

In fact, Reed snapped a photo of one in the park on Sunday.

“If I open the door, a couple of them will leave but some of them just lay in the middle of the park,” she said.

Other neighbors have posted reports of coyotes that have been getting too close for comfort. One shared a picture with NBC 10, with a coyote appearing unfazed while looking through the fence into the park.

“There's young children,” Reed said. “There's a bus stop up the street.”

The news comes about a year after Cliff, a coyote that was well-known to residents on Aquidneck Island, was slated to be euthanized because he was too comfortable around humans. He was welcomed by some, but others viewed him as an “unpredictable” threat.

After public outrage about his fate, Cliff was captured in October 2016, with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management deciding to make an exception to its rules and allowing Cliff to be moved to an undisclosed area in Rhode Island with fewer people, as sending him to a zoo or killing him was ruled out.

Now, word of the latest coyote issue is spreading to park visitors who often walk with their dogs or children.

“My friend saw it on her Facebook feed and I told her I was coming to Braga Park and she said, ‘Watch out for the coyotes,’ Nicole Mineau of Newport said, “And I said, ‘I think I'll be ok in daylight.’”

Taylor Millen, who also lives in Newport, hasn’t encountered a coyote yet.

“I haven't seen them myself, but I hope I don't run into one,” Millen said.

While police said they haven’t been told that the animals have be behaving in “an aggressive manner,” they are “actively working on this issue” and advised dogs owners to keep their dogs leashed at all times.

They also offered the following tips to help deter coyotes, as well as other wild animals:

  • Inform young children not to feed or approach any wild animal
  • Do not leave garbage containers open or accessible to animals
  • Do not feed your pets outdoors
  • Keep cats and small animals in doors
  • Use loud noises to discourage coyotes

Police advised the public to contact them at 401-847-1212 if anyone sees a coyote in or near Braga Park.

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