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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Student bitten by coyote, administrators urge caution

Published: January 18, 2013
Section: News

A Brandeis student required medical treatment after being bit by an animal, possibly a coyote, Dec. 12, and university officials warned students to remain vigilant while walking at night.

The student reported the incident, which occurred in the vicinity of Ziv Quad and the Shapiro Campus Center between 2 and 3 a.m., and described the coyote’s interaction as either a bite or a scratch, Brandeis Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan said. He declined to provide information on the student’s medical condition as of Thursday afternoon.

University police periodically receive reports of coyote sightings or coyote noises, Callahan said, noting the common occurrence in this part of Waltham.

“This section of Waltham periodically has sounds that are [similar] to coyotes,” he said last month.

When coyotes do appear during the day, they typically avoid direct contact with people.

“It’s very strange for coyotes to approach humans because they’re supposed to be afraid of them,” Callahan said. “The animals stay away from humans unless you befriend them and leave food out.”

University police contacted officials from the Waltham Animal Control center, who relayed information to the Massachusetts Environmental Police. The center’s website contains information about coyote and fox sightings common on the south side of the city. During warmer months, many nocturnal animals venture out during the day to feed in order to protect their young from predators at night, according to the center. Signs of animals suffering from an illness include staggering, walking in circles, seizures, unusually tame behavior, strange vocalizations and unprovoked aggression.

If approached by a coyote, people should not run but instead wave their arms, shout or make a loud noise by banging an object, Callahan said. Attempting to quickly run away will likely produce an immediate response.

While a van services the campus and Waltham area into the early morning hours, students can also arrange police escorts for transportation at any hour.

“Students are encouraged to utilize the Escort Safety Service for transportation assistance and contact the university police for on campus transportation assistance when the Escort Safety services completes their nightly schedule,” Callahan wrote in an email Wednesday evening.

Officials reminded anyone to contact the university police at 781-736-5000 to report sightings of animals on campus.