Early this morning, John Suggs — an RTM member and independent candidate for 1st selectman — sent out this email. He says he has already received 150 responses. He writes:
Tonight (Tuesday, September 5, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall), Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) will vote on a proposed ordinance that would, for the first time in almost 50 years, permit the trapping and killing of coyotes in Westport.
This has come about because of a citizen-led initiative in response to fellow town residents who have tragically lost their beloved pets to coyotes. I’m deeply sympathetic to them. No one should have to live through such a trauma. As a parent and a dog owner myself, I am also committed to finding solutions to help keep our children and pets safe from attack.
However, when I step back and analyze the bigger picture, I remain opposed to the practice this ordinance would sanction.
The unintended consequences of this ordinance means all wild and domestic animals can be maimed and injured. In fact, research shows, on average, 5 out of 7 animals caught in foothold traps proposed by this new ordinance are so-called “non-target animals” — including dogs, cats, owls, hawks and eagles. Animals that become ensnared in these traps struggle for hours or days to free themselves; dislocated joints, broken teeth and, of course, self-amputated limbs are all part of this painful outcome.
There are environmentally friendly, science-based protocols for dealing with coyote conflicts. These sustainable, humane and effective measures include: reducing and/or removing food attractants, ensuring pets are not left outside unattended, hazing habituated coyotes with loud noises, spraying water and/or throwing objects to deter them from closer contact.
I invite everyone to educate themselves about these proven, cruelty-free strategies other communities have successfully employed, as well as the unintentional consequences of foothold traps. For a superb resource please click here.
Whether you agree with Suggs or not, you can email all RTM members at once: RTMMailingList@westportct.gov. You can also click “Comments” below. Please be sure to use your full, real name. Tonight’s hearing will be televised live on Channel 79 (Cablevision) and Channel 99 (Frontier), and livestreamed here.