CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – For many western Massachusetts residents, wildlife are a common sight in our neighborhoods. At night, the sounds of howling may be common as well!

In Massachusetts, the primary suspects of howling during the night are the eastern coyotes which can be found all over the state. Coyotes can be found in urban and rural areas and will eat any food that is available to them such as small animals, road kill or trash. While they have similar traits as medium-sized dogs, they differ by having denser fur, pointed upward ears, long tails and are typically a gray color.

Why do coyotes howl at the moon?

You may think coyotes are howling at the full moon, but the lunar cycle actually has nothing to do with it. Coyotes will howl primarily to communicate with other coyotes. Howling can be used to communicate with members of their family or as a way to defend their territory from other coyotes. Other reasons for hearing howling are the following:

  • Searching for a mate during mating season.
  • In the summer months, you may hear howling coyote pups learning from their parents.
  • If there is a threat to the pups, adults may scatter and howl to distract the threat away from their dens.

Coyotes are the only animals likely to be howling in your neighborhood. While some dogs may playfully howl, it is not a common practice for them. You also don’t need to worry about howling coming from a wolf because they do not live in the northeast region.

If you hear howling near your home, it is likely not a cause for concern. However, if you want to reduce your risk of encountering a coyote at night, you can remove food sources from your yard such as trash and bird feeders. If you are concerned for your smaller pets outside, you can easily scare away a coyote by just staying by the side of your four-legged friend or putting a spiky coat on them.

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WWLP-22News, an NBC affiliate, began broadcasting in 1953 by providing local news, network, syndicated, and local programming to western Massachusetts. Follow 22News on X @WWLP22News, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.