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A question Bostonians once wouldn't have had to ask

Advancing coyote in the Arboretum

Grace Holley posed a question yesterday:

You’re on a snow walk in the Arboretum w your pup and you turn the corner and see this 15-20 ft away and it starts walking toward you...what do you do?

Meanwhile, Blvckmachina recorded about seven coyotes in his yard on Glenellen Road in West Roxbury around 4:50 a.m. on Sunday:

He got a photo of the last of the coyotes, a big one, leaving his yard:

Coyote in West Roxbury



Magoo would start running around in a circle yelling “woop woop woop” and then Magoo would say to mr coyote “wise guy eh?” And proceed to poke mr coyote in the eyes. Magoo.


So maybe don't try that.


With all the interbreeding between coyotes, dogs, and wolves, at what point do you look at a giant like that and call it a wolf?

There aren't any wolves East of the Mississippi. Coyotes do carry some wolf DNA from long ago, but wolves aren't breeding with coyotes anywhere near here. Wolves are also much larger than coyotes (like double or triple the weight), with wolves getting up to 150lbs.


This is actually a fascinating subject. Eastern coyotes contain about 10-15% genetic material from western wolves and another 10-15% from eastern wolves. The mixing with eastern wolves happened where eastern wolves still live -- northern Minnesota (which is north of the Mississippi, so dodges that question...) sometime in the last hundred years. Eastern wolves still live in Ontario (including Algonquin Park), northern Quebec, and Labrador. Edit: eastern wolves may be their own species (distinct from the grey wolf) or themselves a hybrid of grey wolves and western coyotes.


Thanks Cliff Clavin

Just kidding, I agree it is fascinating.


You're talking out of your ass. Do a little reading. https://wolf.org/wow/united-states/

No wolves in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, or New York.
Massachusetts and Connecticut didn't even get a mention.

There aren't any wolves East of the Mississippi.

This isn't actually true. There aren't MANY wolves east of the Mississippi, but they do exist. State wildlife confirmed a kill of one in western Mass a few years back - it was killing sheep.


I live in Lincoln and the coyotes are definitely getting huge out here. One ran in front of my car a while back that I could have sworn was a full blown wolf. And Lincoln is only ~15 miles from Boston.


Out in Sudbury I see coyotes or Coy-wolves often. So what do you do? You stay calm and walk away and be thankful you got to see this creature in the wild. I probably would not point my phone at it. Staring is seen as aggression in the animal world.


This is like five years ago now, but I got home late and was walking into my Coolidge Street apartment in Brookline when I saw a dog up the road under a street light. Figured it got out and started walking to check its tag. It froze as I approached and I froze when I realized what it was. Didn't seem all that skittish to be honest, but it took off after a moment. I suppose it was looking for a midnight snack. Lots of little critters in that area.

We moved out of our old place in Arlington a few months back. It was across from a large wooded area that, from the sound of it, was home to a den complete with pups and a mating pair. On warm days when we had our windows open, we'd generally be treated to about 1-2 minutes of yips, barks, howls, etc. from the entire family unit, usually between about 10:30 p.m. and midnight.

Will all that, I almost never saw them. Once, when walking back from Arlington Center on the Minuteman late at night, we saw the shadows of two large coyotes cross the path about 25 yards in front of us. It was back to the sidewalk/streetlights for us at that point.

After wanting to get a good look at these guys for a couple of years with no luck, we signed a lease for a new place and moved. On the very last trip we made to what was soon to become our old place, I was loading the car with a couple final boxes around dusk when a large, dark-colored coyote (almost black in parts) emerged leisurely from the woods, crossed a street, trotted right down the middle of a major thoroughfare, and gave no f#$%s whatsoever before disappearing into the brush around the Minuteman. I yelled at it to see if I could get its attention and it just trotted past me, 50 feet away, like I wasn't there.



I suspect that the bountiful bunny buffet in recent years is keeping them fat, healthy, and happy. Nearly every coyote photographed in the area that I have seen, and every coyote I have seen in my area are quite substantial and beautiful these last couple of years.

Also note that they look bigger in winter because their coats puff up to trap a layer of air near their bodies to hold off the cold, just like any other winter adapted animal will.

Now for the "what to do" part: Make Some Noise! Carry one of those airhorn things, a loud police whistle, or even more cowbell. They hate that racket and move along.

More about Hazing Coyotes.


I don't think we need to spray airhorn at these animals. Just keep on walking, it will be fine.


Some of them have become habituated to humans.

I have been enjoying their noise and presence near my home for over 20 years now, but pandemic use of the Middlesex Fells by humans and their dogs means that ours are getting a little too used to us.

Yours might still be in "calmly walk" mode. In some areas that means "stalk me".

I've generally found yelling at them to be effective, but our neighbor's small dogs out for walks in the Fells are a bit too interesting to them for that. More noise is needed.


And if you see a coyote, toss it at them and walk away.


Yes, do make noise, look as big as you can by spreading your arms, waving. They're all much more active and a little cranky right now so you want to look too menacing and crazy to mess with (which is my default condition anyways). Keep your cats indoors and doggos leashed.


I was biking home a couple of years ago and heard this very strange noise. I stopped and swung my handlebars around and there were three foxes "playing tag" and making a very odd chattering sound.

I absolutely love the word for this - Gekkering! https://soundcloud.com/frangipani24/foxes-gekkering-mp3-extract

And geese.

the coyotes will move on to find a better source of dinner.

(hopefully not humans feeding them - don't do that)

Shouldn't these coyotes be busy eating our turkeys? Seems the abundance of turkey (and geese) would make a nice buffet for those critters - and do us a public service by culling the herd, flock or gaggle.


Coyote sees delicious-looking fowl nearby, coyote devises all sorts of elaborate ways to trap said fowl, coyote's genius always fails, bird wins in the end.

Maybe coyote should start buying products from a different vendor. I don't think that Acme stuff is working very well.

coyotes buy from Amazon now.

I understand coyotes are out more than ever now. Do what you would do as if your dog was your small child. Better yet, stay away from wide open spaces like parks for now.

Uh, my backyard is not exactly a wide open space, but the deer hang out there and that means coyotes sniffing it up on occasion.

Check out the coyote tag here on the hub ... MIT campus, urban streets, etc.

A few years back, I stepped out of my house in West Roxbury and walked onto the sidewalk. Then I saw a coyote staring at me from the middle of the street. Probably only twenty feet away, if that. I was so surprised I looked straight at it for a moment and he/she kept staring at me.

Finally, I actually said out loud "I'll make a deal with you. You go your way and I'll go mine." So I took a right and walked down the sidewalk away from the coyote - and away from the direction the coyote was headed. Couldn't resist a peek back and he/she had kept our deal by continuing to walk in his/her direction - away from mine.

Someone smarter than me probably would have turned around and walked back thru their house door and closed it behind them. But ain't many doors in the Arboretum.


BB guns are legal in Massachusetts as long as you do not discharge one across a road. Your average coyote does not come back into a yard where it knows a copper BB is waiting to meet its ass at 500 feet per second.

Asking for a friend.

(go find that book, all)

usually mid-summer

Gee, what happened to "they're cute" and "they won't hurt anyone"?


Other than the occasional off-leash dog?

Swirly, unfortunately there's always the possibility of rabies, which is a good reason to avoid close contact with any wild mammal around here.

Just one of many questions Bostonians once wouldn't have had to ask

Don't leave food sources available, and they won't hang around. And realize that "food sources" includes cats and any but the largest dogs.

Back in 2016, my daughter and some of her friends lived in Allston. One night she was throwing out the trash in the backyard dumpster. Near the dumpster was a big tree with a branch that hung over the dumpster. She got within about 20’ of the dumpster and saw a Mountain Lion on the branch staring at her. She said it was the size of a big dog with a big face and long tail. She dropped her trash and ran into her apartment. I thought she was seeing things or maybe saw a bobcat. They called Animal Control and they admitted there were several sightings in the neighborhood of a big cat walking around at night. The AC being said they move in and out of the city with the railroad tracks at night. Since Covid19, people quarantining more now and there are more wild animal sightings in Boston. Who knew?