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Police investigate after 16-year-old bitten by coyote on Chatham beach


“Over and over, if they start to get food from people, that food reward, they start to associate people with food.”

A 2013 file photo of a coyote in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Police are warning the public not to feed the coyotes after biting a 16-year-old on the ankle on a Chatham beach.

Around 8 p.m. Monday, the teenager and a friend were eating on a blanket at Harding’s Beach when the coyote approached, according to a Facebook post by Chatham Police.

“I believe he and his girlfriend were having a picnic on the beach and a coyote walked up to them, sniffed and bit his ankle,” Dave Wattles of MassWildlife told WCVB.

The coyote bit one of them on the right ankle, and after the two teenagers ran away, he picked up food and a purse and headed for the dunes.

Chatham Police are also investigating reports of people seen feeding the coyotes.

“They are smart as a dog,” Wattles told WCVB. “So you’re basically giving your dog a treat. And again and again, if they start to get food from people, that food reward, they start to associate people with food.

The town is issuing coyote-specific advisories around Harding’s Beach, and police are reminding residents not to feed coyotes and to keep a safe distance. Officials also told WCVB that rangers responded to incidents of coyotes trying to obtain food from people.

“It must have been scary for these teenagers. I saw the coyotes rummaging through the garbage in the summer after everyone left the Harding Beach lot, ”a commenter wrote on the post from the police department. “It’s tragic that coyotes pay for the ignorance of the people who feed them. I understand the need to bring the population down, but it should be done due to the lack of predators – it only fuels the fear and mistrust of those creatures who are just trying to exist with an ever-growing human population in the world. Cap.

There have been several recent reports of coyote bites in Arlington, and in August, a child was bitten by a coyote at North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown. Also in August, a woman was followed by a coyote as she walked on Race Point Beach in Provincetown.

Police are asking the public to report coyote sightings to police at 508-945-1213 or Animal Control at 508-945-5111.