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Expert weighs in on RI coyote sightings

Dog attacked by coyote in Portsmouth

A local expert is weighing in on recent coyote sightings, including one in which a dog was attacked.

"With respect to that Portsmouth incident, Black Point Lane happens to be a core area for Black Point pack," said Numi Mitchell, lead scientist with the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study.

Mitchell referring to an incident in which Bella, a Weimaraner wads attacked on Black Point Lane in Portsmouth.

The dog is recovering from her injury.

Mitchell, who's been tracking the coyote population on Aquidneck Island for more than ten years, says a dog Bella's size is not typically prey for coyotes, but believes the attack was territorial.

Bella had become nervous and ran into the woods, which to the pack was their territory.

"Anywhere there's shrubs, dense shrubs, five hundred square feet or more, you can expect coyotes sleep there occasionally," said Mitchell.

And Mitchell says this is the time of year coyotes breed, so their instinct is to den.

It's also not uncommon for coyotes who become "habituated" to people, to be seen out in the open, as was the case recently in Warwick, in broad daylight.

"The more comfortable they get with people, the more you see them during the daytime," said Mitchell who added it's important not to become a food source for the coyotes and to draw the line between your territory and theirs.

"This is my yard you are wildlife, go be wild, I always say yell, scream."

And while a dog Bella's size may not a coyote's prey, smaller animals certainly may be.

"I can't emphasize enough, to small pet owners to keep their pets safe and never leave them tied outside," said Mitchell.

For tips to co-exist safely with the coyote population go to www.coyotesmarts.org.

For more on the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study to go www.theconservationagency.org/coyote

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