Tag Archives: coyotes

Only 39 Days Until Spring…

…but this blue jay can’t wait.

(Photo/Irene Penny)

(Photo/Irene Penny)

Today’s snowstorm was just as predicted: quick and heavy. Already, it seems to be winding down.

But it left plenty of cancellations in its wake.

Among them: tonight’s discussion on alternatives to coyote trapping and killing. It’s been rescheduled for Monday (February 13), 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

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.

Coyotes!

Alert, angry and saddened “06880” reader Peter Mackey writes:

The other day we said goodbye to our dear friend Murphy. We rescued our snaggle-toothed mixed breed dog a dozen years ago. He was a childhood companion to our kids, and the inseparable buddy of our other dog, Leilah.

Murphy did not die of old age. He died from a vicious, brutal attack by coyotes in our front yard, on Charcoal Hill Road.

It was a quiet Saturday evening. As usual, I let our dogs out at dusk, to do their final duties. But I’ll never forget that night.

Murphy

Murphy

Murphy had 27 puncture wounds, his muscles ripped from his spinal cord, and internal damage he would never recover from. I apologize for the graphic description, but it’s important we all are aware of how deadly these animals are.

As harrowing as that evening and the next day were, it’s the experience we had afterward that prompts this note. In the process of dealing with this, I’ve discovered that Westport is the only town in Connecticut that has an ordinance against trapping or killing wild animals on private property. Even predators as cruel and ferocious as coyotes.

Officer Gina Gambino of Westport Animal Control told us that Westport Code of Ordinance 10-1 and 10-2 forbid trapping or hunting  coyotes in this town. She said there is nothing that she or her department can do to protect our neighborhood from predators.

“I don’t make the laws. I just enforce them,” was the general response.

Coyotes are now at the top of the Westport food chain. Because surrounding towns allow trapping, they’re proliferating here.

All pets, and even small children are at risk. Murphy was a medium-sized dog weighing 40 pounds. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection warns owners of pets under 25 pounds to be aware of coyotes. That’s an outdated standard.

As our climate warms, coyotes who would normally be in their dens are roaming our yards, looking for food wherever they can find it. With their proliferation comes increased adaptation to human environments. The longer they’re here, the more comfortable they become.

The Mackey family (minus Peter) and their dogs.

The Mackey family (minus Peter) and their dogs.

I hope this letter increases awareness of this clear and present danger; opens dialogue between residents and the RTM about this ordinance, and encourages Westport Animal Control to take some responsibility for helping citizens deal with this issue, ordinance or no ordinance.

If you recently sighted a coyote on your property, report it to the police. Get your RTM members involved.

I can’t imagine I live in the only Connecticut town that places the safety of its predator population above its citizens and their pets.

Last night the coyotes were back in our yard, howling 10 feet outside our bedroom window. Fortunately, Leilah was inside.

Wild Things

The recent hot, rainy weather has taken its toll. And not just on humans.

Recent conditions have created perfect conditions for West Nile virus-bearing mosquitoes to breed.

Coyotes, meanwhile, have suffered. One sick puppy — literally — was put down yesterday, on Bobwhite Drive.

It’s been a wonderful summer in Westport. But be careful out there.

A mange-ridden coyote. (Photo/Stephanie Stallone, courtesy WestportNow.com)

Wild Wild Westport

A local company sent this email to employees yesterday:

“Please exercise extra caution when walking through the parking lot, and in the general neighborhood.

“Coyotes have been spotted in the parking lot, with one seen moving between cars this past Saturday.  We’ve also been advised that packs have been spotted late at night in the parking lot and on Saugatuck Avenue.

“Although coyotes typically will not bother humans, we understand a few years back an employee walking through the woods from the Westport train station was chased by a coyote.  If you are followed by a coyote, it is advised that you yell and raise your hands to scare the animal off.”

Let’s hope that strategy is more effective than whatever has not been working on deer and Canada geese.

Coyote