People living on the south side of New London are getting a lesson in safety after a number of coyote sightings and two recent dog deaths.
Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School students and New London Police teamed up to make sure residents know what to do if they spot a coyote and how to protect themselves and their pets.
On Friday morning, more than 60 eighth graders went door-to-door with officers in southern New London neighborhoods stuffing fliers they helped design in mailboxes and distributing yard signs.
One side of the yard sign reads, “Live and let live. Coyote safety is coyote friendly.” The other side has the text, “This property is coyote safe, and therefore coyote friendly.”
“We’re actually keeping our community safe from all the wild animals,” eighth grader Maria Perez said.
“We need to try to keep ourselves safe but not hurt or injure the animals because they’re only doing what they know how to do,” said classmate Erica Anforth.
All the students are part of the middle school’s leadership academy. They helped research and create the fliers that have tips on how to haze a coyote safely, so it runs away, a coyote yard checklist that talks about cleaning up fallen fruit, trash and water sources, and ways to keep a pet safe.
“I challenged them. I said, ‘OK, let’s come up with some ideas. Let’s find out and learn some stuff about coyotes,’” Acting Police Chief Peter Reichard said.
Since the community expressed concerns about coyote sightings, he wanted community involvement with a solution, so his department teamed up with the students.
At one point Friday, the students ran out of their flier supply and needed to print more.
For residents who were home, the students gave the information first-hand. Some, like Carla Mazzi, are already practicing safe steps to protect her dogs.
“(They’re) on a leash! I have the fence in. It’s all fenced in, in the backyard,” Mazzi said, adding she doesn’t want to see the coyotes killed, but she wouldn’t mind seeing them relocated.
Until then, these students said knowledge is power.
“People and animals can get severely hurt if we don’t spread the awareness,” Anforth said.
A few takeaways from the flier include never feeding a coyote, never running from a coyote – because it might spark a chasing instinct, and keep pets close and on a leash that no more than six feet long.