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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Spokesman: Officer shot coyotes based on 'specific threat'

FRAMINGHAM

A Framingham animal control officer shot and killed a pack of four coyotes this weekend because of the specific threat they posed, said police spokesman Lt. Paul Shastany.

But that doesn't mean officers will be more likely to pull the trigger in the future in a town where coyote sightings in residential areas are relatively common, he said.

"If somebdy says 'Hey, I got a coyote in my backyard,' we want to know the coyote's behavior, the time of day, the appearance of the coyote," Shastany said. "We're not going to eliminate wildflife, that's not our position."

The animals first became a problem Saturday when residents saw a coyote attacking a family pet -- a small mixed-poodle breed -- near Walsh Middle School. When a responding officer spotted the coyote later that day, it growled and stood its ground, Shastany said.

Police then used their new reverse-911 system to notify residents in a one-mile area of the threat and asked them to call authorities with any sightings. That effort elicited numerous phone calls about a pack of three or four roaming coyotes, Shastany said.

Animal control officer Joe Shepherd spotted four coyotes in the area Sunday afternoon, and, as directed, shot and killed them all.

"The presence of the coyotes in the neighborhood searching for food indicated that this was a public safety threat," Shastany said.

--John C. Drake

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