By Jim Sullivan
---- — PLUM ISLAND – With its cool sea breezes and picturesque beaches, many people like to spend their summers out on Plum Island and so it seems, do coyotes.
According to a recent notice from the City of Newburyport Animal Control Officer Matthew Lipinski, island residents are being warned that there have been multiple reported sightings of the critters out on the Island. The city is warning that residents should take precautions.
The Newburyport Health Department notice recommends residents avoid making physical contact with or provide food for the animals. If a coyote is spotted, residents should make sure all their animals are safe and secured, and to make loud noises to scare the coyote off if it comes too close.
Any garbage that is stored outside should be properly secured. Pets should be kept on a leash while outdoors and fed inside while yards and bird feeding areas should be kept clean. The notice also warns that, due to their size, cats and small dogs make easy prey.
Coyotes can often be found in areas within close proximity of humans. They can be seen individually, in pairs, or in small groups where food is around.
According to the Newbury Animal Control Officer Carol Larocque, coyote sightings in the area are not that uncommon.
“What’s happened is, there are so many of them that they are actually born here around us,” said Larocque. “So they get used to the traffic and the people because the young are brought up that way. There are also a lot of foxes on the island.”
Larocque said that residents of the area are used to spotting coyotes or foxes on occasion, but those visiting may be alarmed.
“They just go up the road,” Larocque said of how these creatures find themselves in the middle of a hot tourist spot. “Sometimes early in the morning, I’ve even seen them early in the day, walking along the Newburyport Turnpike.”
Newburyport officials did not provide details of where precisely on the island the coyotes are being seen. When asked for details, Lipinski directed all inquires to Newburyport Director of Public Health Robert F. Bracey, who was unavailable from comment.
The Newburyport portion of Plum Island is the northernmost tip, and one of the most densely populated areas of the island.
So far, on the Newbury section of the island, everything seems to be fine.
“I’ve yet to see a coyote on Plum Island,” said two-year resident Brett Fontaine. “This is actually the first time I’ve heard of the coyotes. I’ve heard some howling and stuff but I have not seen any actual coyotes.”
“I don’t know why (this summer) would be any different,” said Larocque. “We’ve always had them. I haven’t gotten any calls this year on fox or coyotes. Usually by now, I’m getting inundated with calls. But no, I haven’t had any. Everything is normal, nothing out of the ordinary.”
“They must have had an issue. That’s all I can think of,” Larocque said of the Newburyport press release. “I really don’t know, that’s up to their Board of Health.”