Tamanny Trail used to be an animal kingdom. Cats were out hunting mice. Squirrels were feasting on backyard feeders and dogs ran down driveways to greet visitors.
Sunday? Nothing. OK, one squirrel and one dog on a leash outside.
Danbury is hiring a trapper to catch a bold coyote who has been hunting and killing dogs and cats on the street. One pit bull was killed in front of its owner on Tamanny Trail on Aug. 19, and a Jack Russell was severely bitten on Aug. 17. It escaped, and several cats are missing, presumed the victims of the coyote.
To get the trapping effort started, City Council President Joe Cavo and Council member Andrew Wetmore walked door to door, giving residents a DEP fact sheet on dealing with coyotes. They told residents don't let pets run free. Keep cats inside. Walk dogs on a lease. Stop feeding birds. Keep all household trash in animal-proof containers.
Danbury is in the process of hiring a trapper, who will begin working as soon as the final paperwork is signed this week. The goal of removing the food sources from the homes is to lure the coyote back into the woods behind the houses and trap it. The city has negotiated a deal with the largest landowner in this neighborhood to allow the trapping on his property. The deal includes the city taking legal responsibility for problems that might arise.
"This could cost in the thousands of dollars," said City Council President Joe Cavo. "We had to get legal involved in this."
"We're telling people to keep their pets inside or on a lease. We're trying to get all the food sources off the street," Cavo said. "That includes bird food. They'll eat the seed off the ground or they'll eat the small animals that eat the seed. We don't want people going into the woods looking for the traps. Keep your kids safe and out of the woods."
Cavo said when he first visited Tamanny Trail earlier in the week, there were dead mice caught and discarded by cats at one house. He saw dogs and cats everywhere, front yard, back yard, driveway.
"People are getting the message," Cavo said.
"I've seen the coyote," said Tony Rodriguez, who owns a little dog, Lily. He lives on Purchase Street, a tiny cul de sac off Tamanny. "It's dangerous. My neighbor has three kids."
Rodriguez said the coyote is four times the size of his dog, and he's seen it run across the street into his neighbor's yard where its nearly the same size as the young children.
Michelle Figueiredo owns Tyson, a two-year old half-poodle, and in addition to the lease, she carries Tyson in her arms. "The coyote is very aggressive right now," said Figueiredo, who talked to Wetmore about precautions.
The DEP article said, "NEVER feed coyotes! DO NOT place food out for any mammels. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet food and fallen fruit."
It continues, "Teach children to recognize coyotes and to go inside the house (do not run) or climb up on a swing or deck and yell if they are approached."
"Be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior (e.g., approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, stalking children, chasing joggers or bikers, etc.) and report these incidents to authorities immediately."