By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — A walk on the wild side may mean a trip to downtown Derry.
One Franklin Street resident wants to make people aware of animals lurking not far from home.
Babette Wilson of 77 Franklin St. said she hears coyotes’ high-pitched howling near her house and wants people to be careful.
She called animal control to report what she heard.
Her neighbors also spotted a coyote and a fox.
Coyotes are not uncommon in Southern New Hampshire. The first official Granite State sighting of a coyote was in 1944 in Grafton County, according to N.H. Fish and Game records.
Having coyotes so close to home makes Wilson nervous.
“I heard it screeching,” she said, “and my cat is missing. I’ve been a nervous wreck.”
With major road construction underway on nearby Manchester Road, Wilson suspects more and more animals may be forced out of the woods and into residential neighborhoods.
Derry Animal Control Officer Marlene Bishop said every time the town begins a major project or housing development, the animal calls start coming in.
“Every time they start some huge building project, they push them out of their natural areas and into back yards,” she said.
Bishop said coyotes have been heard and spotted in several areas of town, including near West Running Brook Middle School and Humphrey Road.
Foxes are seen on a regular basis.
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said coyotes are reported all over the state. The animals may be getting more comfortable being closer to homes and people, officials said.
Coyote sightings have been reported in Manchester and Portsmouth.
With habitats being disrupted, it is more common to see and hear the animals.
Rita Boisvert of the state’s Wildlife Division said she often takes calls from concerned residents, asking what to do when they see coyotes.
In most cases, she advises them to call the state Wildlife Services division or to contact local authorities.
In a week’s time, Bishop said, she might get anywhere from 15 to 20 calls asking for wildlife help.
She advises people to play it safe, especially if they see a coyote. That includes keeping watch over small pets and not leaving food outdoors.
“They are not your friends, they are not your pets,” Bishop said. “Don’t make them feel welcome. Just send them on their way.”
Wilson fears for her own pets and other pets that may wander in and out of yards. Her home is close to Hood Park, where many families gather at the basketball courts and playground.
The state reports rarely attack humans, but will kill house pets and small livestock.
“I just want people to know about it,” Wilson said. “Dogs that are tied up are sitting ducks.”
Officials warn people to keep watch over their pets, especially when they are outdoors, and use common sense when living near wooded areas.
Anyone with concerns can contact the N.H. Fish and Game Wildlife Division at 271-2461.