Coyote Meeting Set For Thursday

A few days ago, I posted a story about a deadly coyote attack on a Westporter’s beloved dog.

Many “06880” readers responded with comments.

Third selectman Helen Garten responded by contacting colleagues on the Connecticut Council of the Humane Society of the United States. She wondered if there are ways to prevent coyote conflicts without resorting to hunting or trapping — both of which have limited effectiveness in a suburb like Westport.

Laura Simon — a wildlife ecologist who has helped other communities, and whose work has been featured in the New York Times, on NPR and the Ellen DeGeneres Show — volunteered to come here. On Thursday.

So on February 9 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), she’ll answer questions about coyote behavior, and provide alternative solutions.

The meeting will also include information on current state legislative efforts to ban trapping.

“Before we make decisions with lasting consequences, we owe it to ourselves to understand all options,” Garten says.

The public is invited to attend.

Coyotes may look harmless. They're not.

Coyotes may look harmless. They’re not.

34 responses to “Coyote Meeting Set For Thursday

  1. The Humane Society of the United States is nothing more than an animal rights organization. They use their name and history to confuse people into believing they do things like run shelters. I can tell you exactly what Laura Simon will say since I have heard it many times before “make a lot of noise to scare off the coyotes and learn to live with them”.

  2. You should send an engraved invitation to the Town’s Animal Control person.
    Hopefully the town will do something to mitigate the coyote population and it should fall within the jurisdiction of the Animal control person.
    To me the real issue is that the coyotes feed on the deer keeping the deer population in check but there is no animal present, that I know of, that will take on a coyote and keep this population in check. Currently the coyote is at the top of the food chain in Fairfield County.

  3. The photo looks more like a wolf than a coyote.
    Anyway, it’s simple: keep household garbage cans in a closed garage until garbage day, keep cats indoors.
    Same with bears, plus removal of bird feeders and rogue fruit trees.

    Without these food sources coyotes will find dinner elsewhere (wild habitat).

    • There are plenty of plants that keep deer away, too.

      • Really, do tell about “plants that keep deer away”

        • Any pungent or prickly foliage will do.

        • Marygenia Fox

          Great question Jack!
          The deer in my hood seem to have no issues eating my Holly Bushes.
          I can’t imagine munching on anything more brutal than HOLLY!
          -Thanks for any help or advice you have Nancy.

    • Your solutions do not address the main problem cited. Protecting our dogs and children from these wild animals. Most people already manage their garbage well. Despite what Laura Simon is going to say, the only way to keep our dogs and children safe is to control the population through trapping or killing. Coyotes view dogs as competition for food and when their numbers are too high they are aggressively competing for food particularly during the winter months.

  4. …we really can’t vote her off the island?

  5. That photo looks like the coywolf (mixture of coyote and wolf) that is becoming more and more commen in Connecticut. I saw an enormous coy wolf in my back woods pacing back and forth in front of an old stone wall two winters ago. Coyotes usually are smaller and slightly skinny without the puffy coats.
    And – in my opiniion, there is NOTHING that deer won’t eat. Sure, they prefer hosta and azaleas but unless a plant is completely covered with barbs, they will eat it. The only way to keep them out is by a very high deer fence.
    Jane Sherman

  6. Rogue fruit trees?

  7. Final question: Hasn’t the U.S. already extirpated the grey wolf?

  8. We are getting way off topic; the fact is that our small domestic animals are being killed and our children waiting for buses are vulnerable to maybe real danger or only terror, both issues we should address as a community.

    I think Helen’s initial response to get together and speak to each other and have the viewpoint of one expert is a very good beginning. Obviously, lots of these factors being brought up should be considered as we try to fix this very real problem.

    No one who saw that heartbroken woman on Channel 12 News who had her beloved dog savagely killed can take this threat lightly. Prejudging is counter-productive.

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      This is a really good point, Stephanie. We were waiting for the school bus one morning at the corner of our street and South Compo, and had a contractor in a work truck stop to warn us that he’d just passed a coyote walking on S Compo from the next cross street, coming towards us. This is the early morning shortly before 8AM, not at dusk or when it’s a slower time of day. If the animals are out and about during these moments, we need to understand what can be done. (I even worry about older elementary or middle school kids who aren’t at the stops with their parents, who might just think they see a dog coming towards them.)

  9. If you really want to control the numbers of coyotes there is only one method that will work in Westport and I don’t see it ever happening.

    I’m a hunter but I don’t hunt coyotes. The type of hunting that needs to be done isn’t an option in Westport. Most effective coyote hunting is done with rifles. To use a rifle you need 10 acres and need to be at least 500 feet from a house. That pretty much eliminates about 99% of Westport by state law. Archery and shotguns could take out a few but they aren’t really effective for coyotes.

    Trapping is the only way to truly control them. Coyotes hate box traps (Havahart traps). They almost never go into them. The only trap that works for coyotes are leg hold traps. I understand their use and need but as a hunter I’m not even a supporter of them. I remember going to and speaking at the town meetings about deer control (which basically went nowhere). When it comes to leg hold traps in a town like Westport I can’t imagine them EVER being approved.

    • Leg hold traps? Is that the best proactive measure you can offer?

      • Do you want effective or pleasant? If the town wants to move on reducing (which means killing) coyotes thats what its going to take. Like I wrote I don’t see it happening. Holding a bunch of meetings and forming committees to discuss the issue isn’t going to do anything productive.

        • Why not start by picking up dog waste, garbage, fallen fruit… the list goes on.

        • In fact, isn’t dog waste a perennial pet peeve (as so many past posts indicate)? Time to wake and smell the… as coyotes like to.

  10. Bart Shuldman

    Helen Garten shows why she lost the election a few years back—she is out of tune with her neighbors and doing what she Wants to do. While our dogs live with the threat and young children also, HELEN goes in her own direction. She did this when she was on the Board of Finance. Just amazing.

    • Bart, I can’t be the only one who has noticed the pattern in your comments regarding Selectwoman Garten. There seems to be some sort of personal animus involved. The bullying aspect aside, it’s beginning to look a little creepy.

  11. What is your solution to the coyote problem, Bart?
    Are you okay? (thinking of a SNL skit)

  12. Dear Dan,

  13. Bart,

    This is not a political issue and attacking Helen Garten is not the solution. It is reasonable to hear what wildlife experts may offer as a solution.

  14. Because of the predicted snowstorm, the information session has been rescheduled for Monday February 13 at 7 pm in Town Hall Auditorium. Hope all can attend.