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Penn Hills officials warn residents about coyotes |
Penn Hills

Penn Hills officials warn residents about coyotes

| Wednesday, March 28, 2018 2:51 p.m
In this 2008 photo provided by Josh Harrison, a coyote stands in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass. (Josh Harrison via AP)

Coyotes are on the prowl in Penn Hills, and officials are advising residents to take steps to keep chickens, ducks and other pets safe.

A recent swell of calls from residents about problems with coyotes spurred the municipality to release a public service announcement that warns about dangers the predators pose to pets and livestock.

In February and March, Penn Hills officials said coyotes killed several chickens, a deer and a dog. Another dog was injured on Third Street, said municipal planner Damian Buccilli. He doesn’t know how many chickens died.

Buccilli said there are no reports of humans being attacked — which makes sense to Allegheny County game warden Dan Puhala.

“We’re talking about an animal that averages around 35 pounds. So it’s not a huge animal, in a sense of being overly concerned of attacking you or larger animals. But smaller animals, yes,” Puhala said.

Buccilli suspects unsecured urban coops are making chickens easy targets for coyotes.

“Our concern is people who own chickens are not protecting them as securely as they should,” Buccilli said.

As of late January, there were eight families registered to own chickens or ducks in Penn Hills, according to municipal records. An ordinance passed in October 2016 allows residents to keep up to four chickens and one duck on properties less than 5 acres. There are also nine farms within the municipality, according to Buccilli.

Bianca Labrador suspects a coyote ate all four of the chickens she kept at her Penn Hills home.

“One day we noticed one of them was gone, there were just feathers,” she said. “A week later, the rest of them were gone — just feathers.”

Human error might have helped the wild predators.

“I don’t think I closed (the gate) properly the night before,” Labrador said.

Labrador lives in the area Penn Hills officials believe most of the coyote attacks are happening.

“Most are in northern Penn Hills,” Buccilli said. “But they’re everywhere else, too. We’ve always had wildlife, but we’ve seen an increase in coyotes in the last two years.”

Buccilli said the municipality has received calls about coyotes from residents along Lois and Elm drives, Claire Avenue, Shannon Heights, Jodie Lane and Third Street within the last year. One resident called in and reported shooting and killing a coyote on Dalecrest Road in late March.

A March 17 post on the closed Facebook group Penn Hills Informer showed a dead coyote that the user said was hit by a car on Sandy Creek Road.

Despite the sightings and reports, Puhala said crossing paths with a coyote is rare.

“They tend to be wary and evasive of people,” Puhala said. “However, they are a wild animal. They deserve some respect and space.”

Puhala said it is legal to kill coyotes to protect personal property. But if a coyote is just passing through, there is little to worry about, he said.

“They’re a part of the ecosystem just like anything else. It’s a neat opportunity to see one if you do,” he said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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