PLYMOUTH, MASS. (WHDH) - Residents in Plymouth are scared for the health and safety of their pets as at least one sick coyote has been wandering a neighborhood for months. 

7 Investigates took their concerns to MassWildlife and got some answers. 

With coyotes crossing through yards, sleeping on front lawns and prowling through neighborhoods, coyote advocate Selin Nacar said things “should never have got to the point where they are now.” 

Photos show one coyote who experts say has a sickly appearance caused by mange, a condition caused by parasitic mites burrowing under the animal’s skin. The condition causes severe pain.   

“It’s something that should be taken care of,” Nacar said. “ At this point, the whole pack could have it.”

For weeks, residents near Atlantic Avenue in Plymouth say they’ve alerted MassWildlife and other wildlife rehabbers to help the coyotes before they spread the disease.

“Someone’s pet could eventually get it,” Nacar said. 

7’s Dave Puglisi has recently been talking to residents along Holmes Terrace in Plymouth. They say they’ve seen the coyotes for the last couple of months walking up and down the street. 

At one home, the coyotes have actually been living underneath the porch. 

MassWildlife told 7 Investigates they are aware of at least one coyote with mange in the neighborhood. But there could be more.

“It’s not that we don’t want to help the animal, but some of the methods to try to help the animal have the potential to further spread mange in the population or poison other wildlife,” said MassWildlife Black Bear and Fur Bear Biologist Dave Wattles. 

Experts say mange can spread from animal to animal through close contact or if the animals frequent the same areas.

To keep your pet mange-free, remove any trash, bird feeders or pet food around your property that could attract coyotes to your home.

And while mange is treatable, it’s not as easy as it may seem.

Massachusetts state law only allows box traps to be used to capture wildlife. But coyotes are notoriously reluctant to take the bait.

“Coyotes, foxes, other animals in this condition need to be hand-caught by net,” said Zak Mertz, the CEO of New England Wildlife Centers. “And it should be absolutely done by a licensed professional and someone who is rabies-vaccinated and has the equipment.”

New England Wildlife Centers are licensed to care for coyotes with diseases like mange. 

They’re urging residents to let them handle the problem.

“We give medication to not only treat the initial parasite, but also any internal parasites that might be causing them to become skinny and not be able to gain weight as well as anti-inflammatories, because their skin is so inflamed,” said Dr. Priya Patel of the New England Wildlife Centers.

If your pet catches mange, it can be treated with a prescription from a vet or some over-the-counter medications. 

This same medication can be toxic to coyotes.

“The medication used to treat this is commonly given to dogs, but it’s in very very specific weight doses,” Wattles said. 

As for the Plymouth coyotes – wildlife rehabbers are waiting for the right time to step in with permission from the state. 

“We are certainly looking to make sure that animal gets care,” Mertz said. “But it needs to get into care in an appropriate way.”

In the meantime officials are asking everyone in the neighborhood impacted by recent coyote sightings to try to stay away from the coyotes to reduce the chances of spreading mange.

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