Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Coyote attack prompts calls to address problem in N.Y.

Seneca Falls, N.Y. — Two Seneca Falls residents are pushing for statewide changes in the way New York handles coyotes after one of the wild canines killed their small dog.

Charlie Mayer and Marchael Heitmann lost their dog Tiki, an 8-and-a-half-year-old male Bichon Frise/Chihuahua mix, when a coyote attacked the small dog May 5 in the backyard of their home. 

Tiki was in the yard alone, his movement restricted by an invisible fence, at the time of the incident.

They found the dog alive, but it died on the way to the veterinary office.

Now Mayer and Heitmann want to make sure other pet owners don’t go through similar heartbreak.

“The DEC needs to take immediate action for coyote population control. This would mean an open season where the coyote can be hunted year-round and an open trapping season for coyote,” Heitmann said. “An emergency hotline (to report) attacks that we are finding that have occurred in the area. A better response time from DEC is crucial. The coyote had shown up two times after Tiki was attacked. The timing was critical and it took approximately one-and-a-half weeks after Tiki was attacked for the DEC state trapper to set two traps on our property. The traps remained on the property for approximately one-and-a-half weeks and then were retrieved by DEC. We haven’t seen or heard anything more as promised. We should not be in fear of predators around our homes as our neighborhood is at the present time. Charlie has been hunting, fishing and trapping for over 50 years and would like to see something done.”

Heitmann and Mayer also reported the incident to the Seneca Falls Police Department and state Sen. Michael Nozzolio’s office. 

The police chief did get back in touch and say he would like to see DEC change its policies regarding coyotes, Heitmann said. Nozzolio’s staff also contacted the pair and forwarded all of the correspondence to DEC.

Heitmann and Mayer put the onus for change on the state, but DEC says there are plenty of things residents can do on their own to minimize coyote problems, according to Michael R. Wasilco, DEC Region 8 wildlife manager. 

Recommendations include not feeding pets outside; making garbage inaccessible to coyotes and other animals; not allowing pets to run free; and removing brush and tall grass from around your property to reduce protective cover for coyotes, among others.

As far as allowing for a year-round hunting season, that is already in place for the appropriate circumstances, Wasilco said.

“The law allows for killing of coyotes that are damaging private property at any time. A permit can be obtained from DEC to allow destruction of coyotes that are just menacing or threatening to damage property, including livestock or pets,” he said. “This means that in addition to the law allowing coyotes to currently be hunted for six months of the year, individual animals that are threatening to cause problems or have actually caused problems can be killed at any time. As far as being effective in controlling coyote problems, it is questionable how much a year-round hunting season would help a situation like this, since this attack occurred in a developed area where hunting does not occur even when the season is open.”

DEC still needs to take the lead for more aggressive coyote management, said Heitmann, who wonders how many attacks aren’t even reported.

“We were fortunate that Charlie found Tiki and that we were able to take him to the local veterinarian, but he passed on before we arrived and closure was within our hearts,” Heitmann said. “For the people who lost their pets due to a coyote attack that were never found, how many were reported? I doubt many, that’s a good question for the DEC.”

For more information and recommendations for avoiding coyote conflicts, visit www.outdornews.com/links

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