AUBURN —  Heads up, Auburn: You have coyotes.

A coyote howls along with a passing emergency response vehicle’s siren at the Gray Wildlife Park in April 2019. Sun Journal file photo

But it’s probably fine.

Auburn police this week posted a notice on Facebook letting residents know that coyotes are “all over the city of Auburn” and could possibly try to take a dog or cat if in a pack.

However, the alert emphasized, “For the most part, they will do their coyote thing and keep their distance.”

Michael Chaine, Auburn’s animal control and special enforcement officer, decided to post the note after hearing from someone who had twice spotted a coyote — possibly two different coyotes — in the Beech Hill Road area. They said the animal “was looking or paying attention to their dog, which was a larger breed dog,” Chaine said.

While Auburn is one of the largest cities in Maine and feels urban at its center, it also includes a lot of rural areas, farmland and open space that wildlife love. Auburn police receive several calls a year about coyote sightings in various parts of the city, often at night.

“Sometimes they’re found to be unfounded, whether it’s a small dog that somebody has misidentified as a coyote, maybe it’s a stray,” Chaine said. “But I do get a stream of calls, especially if we get a (coyote) family that’s denned over near the airport just because it’s an open area.”

Coyotes are very wary of and typically avoid people. There have been no documented coyote attacks on humans in Maine, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s coyote website. 

“Knock on wood, we haven’t had any instance where we’ve had to go react to any that have been acting sick or aggressive toward people,” Chaine said.

They do, though, kill small animals for food and may attack cats or dogs.

In general, Chaine recommends that Auburn residents just be aware of the possibility that coyotes are in their area. If a coyote is spotted but is staying away from people and acting normal, it should be left alone.

“If they’re being wild animals, that’s what they do,” Chaine said.

If the animal appears sick, seems aggressive, is getting close to humans or is otherwise concerning, he advises calling the Maine Warden Service.

“Just know that, yes, we have them,” Chaine said. “But unless there’s some specific reason, just kind of let them be as they are.”

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