EAST SPRINGFIELD, Pa. -- "I've never heard a sound like that. It was a very frightening sound," said Jeanne Marino as she described the night in April that she believes Toes, one of her three family cats, was killed by coyote.
Marino said, "The next day, the cat was not there. I have two others cats and they were there, but he was not there. And I talked to my neighbor, who also feeds him in the morning, and she said she had not seen him either."
Marino was one of nearly a dozen people gathered Thursday at Federated Church in East Springfield to learn about coyotes and voice concerns.
Roger Coup, Wildlife Management Supervisor of the Pennsylvania Game Commission, gave a presentation on the behavior of coyotes, statistics and solutions to pets safe.
He said, "We would recommend to people: keep a close eye on your pets. Keep your pets indoors as much as possible to try to reduce the chances that they might be in danger from a coyote."
Coup said there were 563 complaints of coyotes across Pennsylvania in 2015, but he said most of them were more than 300 of them were reports of sightings. That same year, 154 animals were reported to be killed by coyotes.
"Coyotes are not naturally aggressive toward people. If they start to associate people with a readily available food source. They might start to lose some fear and become a little bit more brazen,” he said.
Coup said removing one predator does not eliminate the risk to prey, because another predator will benefit from more food and fill the void by growing in population.
"Like a lot of wildlife species, they are a part of the natural ecosystem, now; and they're here to stay, he said. “And we need to adapt to a certain point the way they have adapted in order to coexist with them."
Marino said concerned residents are not left with many options.
"I love animals,” she said. “I don't like killing anything, but I don't want my cats taken either. I don't want my pets taken."
The Pennsylvania Game Commission estimates that there are more than 100,000 coyotes occupying the state with the predators found in every county.
Commission said residents are not required to have a license for defensive hunting of coyotes on their own property.
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