DARIEN — Darien police and the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are clarifying their response to coyote sightings after social media rumors circled about Darien Animal Control “trapping” coyotes.

Darien Police and the municipal animal control officer have both received reports recently about coyote sightings around town. However, police will not “trap” or remove a coyote based on sightings.

Police said coyotes are becoming more common and occasionally prey on small pets and, as a result, there have been increased concerns about coyotes attacking people, particularly small children. Police emphasized that while coyotes exhibit bold behavior near humans, human coyote attacks are extremely rare. Coyotes may exhibit more aggressive behavior toward small dogs during the breeding season in January and February. Police said this behavior may increase if coyotes are intentionally fed and associate certain homes with food.

The DEEP Wildlife Division may issue a special permit to allow a professional, licensed nuisance wildlife control operator to trap and destroy coyotes known to continually attack supervised pets or threaten public safety. These operators must be hired by the landowner.

In February, New Canaan Animal Control began giving out coyote hazing kits to residents. These kits contain noise makers, like air horns and whistles, to help scare coyotes off property and are a humane way of dealing with the increasing presence of coyotes, particularly during breeding season. On March 23, a New Canaan resident used coyote hazing methods and banged pots and pans together to scare off a coyote attempting to attack her dog. The pet was not harmed from the incident.

To report coyote sightings in Darien, contact the Darien animal control officer at 203-662-5345 or DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011. To report animals that are behaving abnormally or are posing an immediate public threat in Darien, contact the Darien Police Department at 203-662-5300 or DEEP Emergency Dispatch Office, available 24 hours a day, at 860-424-3333.

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Tips to prevent conflicts with coyotes

Do not allow pets to run free. Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and small dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times. The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. A variety of livestock fencing and small animal pen designs can protect farm animals.

Never feed coyotes. Do not place food out for any mammals. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet food and fallen fruit. Secure garbage and compost in animal proof containers.

Always walk dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. Do not run or turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can often be attributed to this territorial behavior.

Attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises (e.g., shouts, air horns) and acting aggressively (e.g., waving your arms, throwing sticks, spraying with a hose).

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.

Be aware of and report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures, and extreme lethargy. Daytime activity is not uncommon and does not necessarily indicate rabies.

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.

Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds that coyotes or other animals may use.

Educate your neighbors. Ask them to follow these same steps.

Regulated hunting and trapping may be used to remove problem coyotes in areas where it is safe and legal to do so.

Contact the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 for more information on coyotes or other wildlife problems.

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata