A Massachusetts family thought they had rescued a stray puppy. He was a coyote
“After realizing their confusion, they called us for help,” said the wildlife center, which is part of the New England Wildlife Center, a nonprofit organization that provides free veterinary care to about 5,000 animals per year.
Zack Mertz, executive director of the Cape Wildlife Center at Barnstable, told CNN it’s not uncommon to see coyotes and foxes wandering around this time of year. Puppies are just getting to the age where they begin to explore away from their families. It is not known if this pup had just strayed too far from its family or if its mother had been injured or killed.
Center staff “were very quickly able to identify him as a coyote, which was definitely still at an age where he should have been with his parents,” Mertz said.
The puppy, thought to be around five to six weeks old, has been cleared of rabies and received its first round of vaccinations, Mertz said. The wildlife center will temporarily raise him alongside a female coyote pup between you and four weeks old who was recently transferred from the Rhode Island Wildlife Clinic.
Raising the pup alongside a foster sibling is crucial due to the social nature of coyotes, Mertz said.
“One of the best things you can do for a young pup who has lost his family is to at least provide a sibling of the same age,” he said. “It’s because if we do our job well and stay away, that brother will be the role model, and they can learn as much as they can from each other.”
He said staff at the center try to come into contact with the coyotes as little as possible, so the dogs don’t associate humans with food and maintain a natural upbringing as much as possible. They also strive to simulate the coyotes’ natural environment by decorating their large enclosures “as naturally as possible” and providing food and climbing challenges that “help them practice the kinds of behaviors they would need.” ” in nature.
Staff plan to introduce the two pups in about a week, once the female has grown slightly. If all goes well, the two puppies will spend about six months at the center before being released into the wild in mid-autumn.
Mertz said anyone who sees a baby coyote or other animal alone in the wild should be aware that its parents might be nearby — so contact a local wildlife service before intervening.
“We ask that you keep a safe distance and report what you see,” he said.