OTISFIELD — Concern over coyotes in the community has prompted town officials to hold a public meeting next week to answer residents’ questions.

Reports circulated last month that a 10-year-old Appaloosa horse had been killed while trying to escape a pack of coyotes in Otisfield. The news spurred concern from residents, and even prompted the elementary school administrators to keep students indoors for recess one day as a precaution.

Peaco Hill area residents told reporters that they have seen an absence of small animal such as rabbits and feral cats recently, and are hearing coyotes howling more frequently at night.

To address the growing public concern, selectmen set up the meeting to discuss the coyote situation. Town Manager Marianne Izzo-Morin said the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, in the Otisfield Community School.

Izzo-Morin said Neil Wykes, a Maine game warden, will attend the meeting to answer questions about what options the town and landowners have when a coyote, or a pack of coyotes, threatens their personal safety or that of their domestic animals.

Additionally, Geri Vistein, a conservation biologist from Belfast, will talk about her research living with coyotes. Vistein is a member of Project Coyote, a nationwide group dedicated to creating “fundamental and systematic change in the way coyotes and other wild carnivores are viewed and treated in North America,” according to the group’s Web site.

The group’s mission is stated to promote educated coexistence between coyotes and humans through progressive management policies and fostering respect and understanding of the animal.

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