Brookline is turning to the Internet to help address concerns about the increasing number of coyotes being spotted around town.
Friday afternoon Brookline launched a new geographic information system on the town’s website that allows residents to report locations of coyote sightings.Public Health Director Alan Balsam said the town is still advising residents who have seen any threatening activity by a coyote, or anyone who wants a police response, to call police.
But Balsam said the online reporting system, similar to one launched by Belmont in July, is intended to allow people to report coyote sightings and to see where other sightings have been.
“Lots of times people don’t want a police response, they just want to report that they saw a coyote somewhere,” Balsam said today. “This way they have both options.”
The online tool is part of a multi-pronged approach the town is taking to address concerns about coyotes, Balsam said. The town saw a sharp increase in the number of coyote sightings from 2010 to 2011, with residents in the Corey Hill neighborhood near Coolidge Corner having most of the encounters.
Residents of the Corey Hill neighborhood have said they suspect coyotes are to blame for several pets that have gone missing, but the town has said there is little it can do because of a state law that prevents the use of effective traps to catch coyotes.
Balsam said the town is working with State Rep. Frank Smizik, D-Brookline, to set up a meeting with the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife to hash out exactly what the threshold of coyote activity is before the town can take action.
In the meantime, Balsam said a task force set up by the town will be monitoring coyote sightings posted online. When sightings are on the rise in a certain neighborhood, Balsam said the town will respond by passing out information in those neighborhoods about what precautions they should take, such as securing trash can lids, keeping pets indoors, and using things to make noise, such as pots and pans, to scare off coyotes.