Help us map wild animal attacks or threats. Describe your sightings in the comments, and we'll add them to our interactive map. We've started it off with details from reports on Patch and Facebook.
Last week, Orange Patch blogger "Bombur" of a "sad incident in our yard" on Dogburn Road from 4 a.m. the night before.
"Three animals attacked and killed a fawn in our yard," wrote 'Bombur.' "We did not get a close look at them but they were about the size of a medium sized dog. They made a horrible screeching sound for about 30 seconds. I went out at 4 and found the dead fawn, it was gone in the AM."
Over the next few hours, residents weighed in. Some asked for more details. Some recounted their own experiences. 'Bombur' thought they could have been fishers, but commenters Sabrina Santoro and Christi suspected the culprits might have been coyotes. "My neighbor and I heard the same horrid thing," wrote Suzanne Dinice-Tomasko. "We tried to yell and make noise but it was too late. He found the poor fawn the next day. It is sad to see mom alone."
On Orange Patch's Facebook page, commenters recounted the same kinds of stories. Commenter Kimberly Pressley said she and her neighbors, longtime Orange residents, had heard attacks last year and the year before. "It scared the daylights out of me," she wrote.
"We live on Demarest and earlier this year I heard a terrible attack," wrote Bonnie Keegan on Facebook. "One of the neighborhood cats has been missing. Last week a fox ran thru our yard around dinner time heading for the woods behind our pond. There is a big coyote around also. Wildlife abounds."
Wildlife abounds, and predatory wildlife like coyotes, foxes and fishers are nothing new to Orange. But are they becoming more of a threat? It's an important question to residents with outdoor pets, especially cats or small dogs. But it's a hard question to answer, says Chris Vann of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, in part because there's not a lot of new data from Orange.
"Some people may see these things happen -- a fox with a cat in its mouth, coyotes near livestock or pets -- and if they're not calling ... we don't hear about it," Vann says. "If people lose a cat, they may never call us."
More and more, coyotes and other predators are drawn to residential landscapes with higher acreage, seeking easy access to food. Vann says the problem may be increasing statewide as animals weigh a fear of humans against access to a meal.
"They can certainly show up in some areas you wouldn't suspect," he says. "We are hearing about new behavior ... These animals are very adaptable."
Vann encourages Orange residents to contact DEEP's Wildlife division to help make the data more accurate -- but only, he says, if the animals are actually posing a threat.
"Obviously, if you're seeing a coyote or a fisher in a suburban or residential area living in your front porch or back deck, that's different than seeing it in a natural habitat criss-crossing a farm field."
Orange First Selectman Jim Zeoli says he has seen the animals on his farm for years.
"They've been here as long as I can remember," Zeoli says. "You get the occasional loss of a loved pet, whether it be a cat, dog or other small animal. But they've lived in co-existence since the dawn of time. We've been very fortunate we've never had any problem with interactions with people. But they do exist here. There's far more wildlife than people realize in the night out there. Coyotes, bobcats, fisher cats -- there's even been potential mountain lion sightings in the area … There's a lot of wildlife in suburbia."
If you've noticed coyotes or other predators getting too close or posing a threat, you can contact DEEP's Wildlife Divison to file a complaint at 860-424-3011.