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Seeing more coyotes on the Cape and South Coast? Here's why

eastern coyote
Bill Byrne
eastern coyote

If you’ve heard about coyote sightings on Cape Cod in the last few weeks — perhaps in unexpected places — a state biologist says there are reasons for that.

“This is a peak in the year, in terms of the number of full-size, or nearly full-size, coyotes that are out on the landscape,” said Dave Wattles, the state’s top biologist for fur-bearing animals.

Some of the pups born this spring will stay with their parents for another year and help raise next year’s pups. But others are ready to disperse and find their own territory — and that’s likely what they’re doing now, he said.

“Either they're just more active because they're older, or they're dispersing and they're out on their own,” he said.

Although Massachusetts has recorded a slight uptick in coyote sightings in recent weeks, Wattles said the coyote population here isn’t rising significantly; it’s actually stabilized.

When the modern population of coyotes first arrived in Massachusetts in the 1950s, their numbers grew rapidly, he said. Now, coyotes are competing for limited resources.

“So the female may not be in as good body condition, so she doesn't produce as many pups,” he said. “Overall pup survival may decrease, so the population doesn't increase at the same level as it would have historically.”

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.