“It’s really polarizing how coyotes are perceived,” he said. “You either love ’em or you hate ’em. There’s not a lot of in between. People want to get rid of them all or people want to save them all. That’s disturbing to me. There’s a healthy balance between that.”
The coyote management plan proposed by Maguranis also outlines an educational strategy for the town.
Maguranis, who is the Massachusetts representative for the nonprofit Project Coyote, has already implemented an extensive outreach program. In his role as Belmont’s animal control officer, he spends time walking around town talking with residents about coyotes, and gives frequent talks on the subject.
The educational component of the plan includes teaching residents how to keep themselves and their pets safe, how to keep coyotes out of their yards, and how to haze coyotes correctly.
Training on hazing techniques will be offered for free to residents in areas where coyotes have been seen. Maguranis also said he is willing to do one-on-one training, and, if a resident calls when they see a coyote, he will demonstrate proper hazing techniques on the animal.
“It’s very effective when somebody sees it done. They’re skeptical. A lot of people see these animals and they’re big and they get afraid,” he said. “When they see me walk out, the coyote says, ‘Uh oh, big bad John is here,’ and takes off running, people say, ‘He’s right.’ . . . Knowledge conquers fear.”
MassWildlife does not have a specific position on hazing teams, but has always encouraged education and hazing as ways to deal with urban coyotes.
Belmont’s plan does not rule out killing problem animals.
“If a coyote was sick, had rabies, was completely aggressive, attacking people — the citizens of Belmont can rest assured that it would be put down,” Maguranis said.
Evan Allen can be reached at email@example.com.