Coyote Conflict: Sue O'Connell Chased Through Playground in Boston

Wildlife experts say coyotes are not generally aggressive toward humans they can be aggressive toward dogs

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Coyote sightings are common across Boston, but a coyote chase? Not so much.

Take it from NBC Political Commentator Sue O'Connell who had a standoff with one Tuesday morning.

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A routine walk with her dog Maude, in Roxbury’s Marcella playground, around 5:30 a.m.,  turned into a tweet-worthy nightmare, in other words, a 911 "coyote call."

“Coyotes are actually pretty common in Boston,” said Dave Wattles of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

O’Connell wasn’t surprised by that fact.

As a Roxbury resident, she said she’s seen plenty of coyotes, but has never been this close. That is, until she and Maude were walking and she spotted what looked like a stray dog in the field adjacent to the playground.

“I actually thought it was a German shepherd,” said O’Connell.

She was just a tad off.

As she walked closer to the fenced-in field to get a better look, she said she snapped a picture and apparently caught its attention. The coyote sprang up and raced toward her.

Naturally, O’Connell said she took off running to get as far away as possible. What she didn’t know at the time, was the coyote wasn’t after her - it was after her dog.

“This is a time of year where we typically see a lot of aggression towards dogs,” Wattles explained.

He added that smaller dogs, roughly 30 lbs or so, are seen as a potential threat to coyote pups.

Whatever the coyote was protecting was apparently worth hunting Maude and Sue to the edge of a second fence at the playground’s entrance, all before hopping over it and forcing them into the street as she called 911.

Luckily O’Connell said she slammed the fence closed which made a screeching sound, startled and slowed the coyote.

Experts say instead of slinking away from the animal, it’s actually best to assert dominance to fend them off.

Alexis Trzcinski, director of Boston’s Animal Care and Control, added a few tips to prevent drawing coyotes out too.

  • Cover compost
  • Don't leave trash open
  • Keep pets on leashes when walking

Trzcinski said their office typically fields about five to 10 calls a week for coyote sightings, but not typically close encounters.

understanding that their size and appearance can be a bit scary, Trzcinski said her office reassures the public that coyotes aren’t typically aggressive toward people.

The animals are however a protected species and Wattles explained his division has jurisdiction over when to put an animal down after aggressive behavior.

A resident, he explained, is advised to call their office, 911, 311 or the city before taking matters into their own hands.

If you have concerns about coyotes in your neighborhood or to report a sighting, you can contact the City of Boston Animal Care and Control or the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.

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