Decoy Coyotes Prowl Campus

Gintautas Dumcius

You’ve seen them as you drive into school.

Their plastic eyes watch hungrily as the bus comes in, packed with students on their way to class. The coyotes stand guard over the campus, always motionless, but slightly jarring to those who are sleepily hanging on to the bus handrails. At dusk, they disappear, only to appear again on the soccer field come morning, always in a different position than they were before.

“Have you seen them?” asks Susan Smith, Student Senate president, while in a meeting with Director of Student Life Joyce Morgan.

“Holy Moses,” says Provost Paul Fonteyn, when prompted to peer out his window, which overlooks the field.

“Animal abuse!” shouts Associate Provost Peter Langer, as he playfully relates how one evening he saw strange men come out and take the coyotes apart. One of the men had the coyotes’ heads under his arm, he says.

The decoy coyotes, three of them to be exact, assume different positions on the field every day, thanks to the folks in the Facilities Department, in order to keep the geese and their dreaded droppings off the soccer field so UMass Boston’s sports teams can play without getting a reminder of what the goose ate for lunch on their shoes or in their wounds.

“They’re actually targets,” says Chuck Coyne, deputy director of Facilities, says of the decoys, noting that the small target signs are almost invisible on the beasts’ fake fur coats.

Another three are coming for the track field, and the university plans to buy another half dozen if these first six do well. Pretty soon there will be a whole family to take care of.

The idea came from Bob Kelly, the university’s grounds supervisor. There were plans to use a spray, but that was seen as too expensive. The chemical spray would have to have been applied to the campus grounds every fourteen days, sooner if it rained.

Then a friend showed Kelly an article in a newspaper about the decoy coyotes being used at a community college to a similar effect. Kelly got the name of the website,, a Sidney, Nebraska-based company that sells fishing, hunting, and outdoor gear, and yes, the decoy coyotes.

The decoys appear to be working. “So far today I haven’t seen any [geese] on the field,” says Kelly. “It’s a more friendly way of taking care of something without harming the geese or using chemicals.”

There are even jobs for those interested in taking care of the three-member pack. “We’re also taking volunteers to feed them,” says Kelly.