The Hopkinton Police Department on Friday urged trail walkers, particularly those with dogs or children, to exercise caution when encountering animals after a dog was snatched by a coyote Thursday afternoon.
According to the police report issued Friday morning, the incident was reported on Whisper Way, which is off Wood Street and offers access to a trail that runs through Cameron Woods. The dog was found to be deceased, and the animal control officer assisted in its removal.
“Please use caution while walking with your dogs and kids on the trails in town, particularly in the areas of the Whisper Way trail, Yellow Trail and Red Trail,” reads a statement from the Police Department posted on Facebook Thursday evening. “A woman was walking her dogs this afternoon when one of them was unfortunately snatched by a coyote. An officer assisted with attempting to locate the dog with the owner. We feel horrible this happened to someone’s fur buddy, they are members of the family and are a tremendous loss when we lose them.”
The department also offered several tips when encountering coyotes, as well as a reminder that the coyotes are in their natural habitat. They include:
1. Have your dogs on a leash so as to keep them with you at all times, especially the littles.
2. Carry a walking stick if you can.
3. Make a lot of noise (whistling, stomping, singing, etc.) so as not to accidentally surprise wild animals as you’re walking.
4. If you do see a coyote that doesn’t run when you encounter it, yell and wave your arms; they do not like loud noises. Also, do not run away, as this may trigger them to chase you and/or your dog.
In response to an inquiry by the Hopkinton Independent last month following social media posts from residents of a bear spotted in town, Chief Joseph Bennett noted in an Aug. 18 email that recently “there were 21 incidents where there were reports of animal calls to police.”
“I reviewed all 21 animal calls,” he explained. “We had calls for dogs, cats, deer, birds, bats, hostile turkeys, an owl and even a chicken. No bear calls yet this month.”
Bennett added that he received training earlier this year from the Massachusetts Environmental Police regarding a statewide awareness program on how to handle encounters with black bears. Black bears are common in Western and Central Massachusetts and have been migrating eastward. They have been spotted this summer as far eastward as Newton and Quincy. One factor could be development in previously wooded areas.
A Boston Herald article in July pointed out that black bears are traveling eastward beyond Interstate 495. In the mid-1970s, the black bear population was estimated to be less than 100 bears. Now, it is closer to 5,000. According to the MassBears website, there have been no reported black bear sightings in Hopkinton from 2019-23.