Police concerned about coyote sightings in Houlton

Posted Dec. 31, 2012, at 2:53 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Numerous sightings of a coyote reported to police over the past month have led the department to warn residents of the community to remain cautious.

Houlton Police Chief Butch Asselin issued an initial warning about the animal Friday and included a photograph taken by a resident when it turned up in her backyard. He said Monday that there have been no reported sightings of the animal in recent days, but added that it could still be in the area.

The coyote was first spotted on Dec. 17 in the Pleasant, Charles and Elm street areas of town.

Later that night, another caller reported seeing it near the Salvation Army store on Water Street.

A few days later, the coyote turned up again in the yard of a home on Washburn Street. The resident was able to take a picture of the animal, which is believed to be at least 1 year old.

Asselin said the department has contacted the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife about the animal. Officials are troubled by its behavior, even though it appears to be healthy.

“Coyotes are nocturnal and afraid of humans, which makes them generally hard to observe,” he said. “This coyote is displaying no fear of humans and being seen during daylight hours, which is of particular concern.”

Asselin said the animal poses a potential threat to pets and people. He urged the public not to approach it or leave food out for it in an attempt to lure it closer to get a photograph.

“Because of the threat the coyote poses to the public, police have no alternative but to safely dispatch the animal when we come in contact with it,” said the chief.