Precisely what is behind the recent misbehavior by a pack of Portsmouth coyotes is unclear but it is refreshing that nobody’s first impulse has been the ‘shoot-’em-all’ tactic.
Coyotes are common now throughout this region. They can be heard yipping at sunset in woods and fields from Westport and Little Compton to Aquidneck Island.
They are mostly wary of people, a healthy instinct that enables the two species to coexist as close neighbors.
But lately some members of the large ‘South Portsmouth Pack’ have grown unusually bold. They regularly visit back yards, occasionally peer into windows and have been seen killing cats.
Scientists are concerned by the trend — top predators and residential neighborhoods are an unhealthy mix for obvious reasons. They intend to trap a few of the intruders, attach tracking devices to them, and attempt to learn where they travel.
They are hoping to mend this pack’s ways before things get out of hand. If there is a showdown, experience shows it will go badly for the coyotes.
It has happened in lots of places including Middletown not so long ago. Coyote hysteria prompted officials to call in the hunters who gunned the animals down.
But coyotes are survivors. Something in the genetic code told them that it was time to multiply and in no time their numbers had recovered.
Much more successful has been the tactic of addressing what drew the coyotes so close in the first place. They visit for food, easy pickings. Pet food left out on patios, cats allowed to roam, garbage left uncovered — all are magnets for these creatures.
For their own sake, members of this pack will need to change their ways. For that to happen, some human behaviors may need changing as well.
If there is no reward to back yard visits, the experts are betting that the coyotes will soon find better places to roam.