NEW CANAAN — Walkers at Waveny Park may notice a new sign greeting them when they enter for a morning stroll. The first of several signs warning residents about coyotes in the area recently went up in the popular New Canaan park.

“When I’m in the parks people, come up to me and say ‘I don’t understand what I see,’” said Alyson Halm, of people’s responses to seeing coyotes in town parks. “I’m always surprised they’re surprised. At this point, I felt that the more signs, the more awareness we can bring, the safer we’re all going to be.”

New Canaan’s animal control officer said six signs in total will be distributed between Kiwanis Park, Waveny Park and the Bristow Bird Sanctuary once the ground softens up. These areas were chosen due to the consistent reports of coyotes being spotted there. Halm added she hopes to get all signs up before spring.

The signs are one of several ways Halm is urging people to be aware of the wildlife around them.

At the start of the new year, Halm began her yearly tracking of wildlife sightings in the area, particularly of what she calls “the big four” — mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and bears — and is asking residents to call in when they see these animals to help with data collection.

More Information

Report a sighting

To report a coyote, bear, bobcat or mountain lion sighting, call New Canaan Animal Control at 203-594-3510.

“I don’t want people to become complacent and think it’s an ordinary thing, though it is,” Halm said. “I still want to know.”

According to Halm, there have been consistent bobcat sightings in the central part of town, as well as a mountain lion spotted on Jan. 16 in the area of Nursery Road. There have also been two coyote sightings reported this year.

Halm said she wants residents to check surveillance camera footage for sightings, as the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is tracking certain wildlife as well. Big cats, in particular, are new to southern Fairfield County and Halm said tracking sightings will help determine whether the animals are moving through the area or are here to stay.

Halm is also encouraging residents to continue to employ hazing methods to scare off coyotes in their yard. Coyote hazing is the process of using items like pots and pans or a whistle to scare off a coyote.

“This is a lifestyle change. It’s not going away,” Halm said. “You should not be letting dogs out early in the morning and especially at dusk alone. You should be prepared with an air horn or whistle. We’re encouraging anyone who walks in Waveny to have a whistle or air horn with them. It’s a reconditioning process. We’re trying to change the behavior of coyotes.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata