To the editor:
The city’s parks department’s response to the increasing numbers of coyotes is a perfect example of ignoring a small problem so that it will become a bigger problem.
Let’s work through their guidelines point by point:
• “A healthy coyote is not going to attack a person unprovoked. They’re not aggressive.” That may be generally true, but what if they are hungry and someone is walking with a small dog or child? Since they are known to attack small creatures, a stroll in the neighborhood becomes potentially dangerous.
Imagine being afraid to take your eyes off your small children.
• There are more reports of people being bitten by domestic dogs annually than by coyotes nationwide. That is an awful truth. But there are also far more dogs in the United States than urban coyotes.
We expect dog owners to control their dogs. Who is going to control a coyote?
• “It would also be against state regulations to relocate a healthy coyote outside of county lines.” Maybe we need to reexamine some of our mandates.
• “So why do we want to dump something that we are considering a pest into someone else’s neighborhood to deal with when, in fact, it’s probably just a healthy coyote?”
We don’t want to move the problem into someone else’s neighborhood. If coyotes can be relocated to an area of forest without people, this is a good idea. If there is nowhere else to relocate them to, then we have to consider euthanasia.
• “Only when a coyote has bitten a person or a pet on a leash while it is accompanied by a person will the agency immediately recommend putting the coyote down on scene.” Let’s think this through for a minute. Will a coyote remain around long enough to be dealt with? Who do you call exactly? What is a reasonable response time? If the coyote has left, how will you identify the animal?
The general wisdom is that coyotes are looking for a good living. By learning to tear open garbage, they have found a steady source of food and are probably losing some of their fear of humans in the process.
The fact that new coyotes may move in to fill vacancies left by removed animals does not mean that the problem can be ignored. Instead, it may mean that we are developing a chronic problem.
Chronic problems simply need regular attention. Ignoring this situation until it becomes worse is not a solution.