An ‘Aggressive’ Coyote Is on the Loose in Brookline

Police advise residents to steer clear.

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Police in Brookline are urging residents to stay away from an “aggressive coyote” that is on the loose in the town.

They warned about the animal’s presence in a tweet Friday afternoon. “AVOID IF SEEN,” they say, adding that the predator charged at a police officer around 11:30 a.m.

The coyote was spotted at the corner of Washington and Greenough streets, police said, which is a few blocks away from Brookline High School. They urged caution in particular to students leaving school. “Students should travel in groups, not approach or run & call 911,” BPD wrote in another tweet.

The search for the animal continues.

More information was not readily available. Police on Friday did not return calls for comment.

While they are seen in residential areas very infrequently, coyotes can be found in wooded areas all around the state, says Rob Halpin, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. In fact, he says, they thrive in areas close to humans, and are attracted to trash and small animals in those neighborhoods. “They’re always there. Even when we’re not reporting on them or we’re not seeing them, they’re there.”

Typically, coyotes avoid contact with humans however they can, he says. The fact that this coyote allegedly charged at a police officer suggests there might be something wrong with it, says Rob Halpin, spokesman for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“That could be a sign that the coyote is quite ill and perhaps rabid,” he says.

Things might not end well for this animal, he says. Police have the authority to kill coyotes if they see fit to do so. Halpin hopes they kill the coyote only if it is absolutely necessary, and cautioned against overreacting. “In the vast majority of cases, they pose no threat to us at all. We need to learn to share our dwindling public spaces with wildlife, else there will be no wildlife.”

For anyone who happens to come across a coyote, the Humane Society has tips for how to “haze,” or shoo away, the animal before it gets too close. One approach is to “stand tall, wave your arms, and yell at the coyote, approaching them if necessary, until they run away,” the society says on its website.  You can also try shaking a can full of pennies, chucking projectiles like tennis balls and small rocks in its direction, or even spray it with a hose.

Now would also be a good time to bring your pets indoors, as coyotes are particularly threatening to household animals. In September, a family in Arlington reported that a coyote attacked and killed their West Highland Terrier.

Last month in Braintree, though, police assuaged the fears of residents who heard about a pack of coyotes attacking a woman in a local park. The widely circulated story, they said at the time, was false.