There might be more reporters and TV news vans in Rye than coyotes. Rye City Hall was stuffed to the gills tonight with residents, officials and television cameras to hear the latest and greatest about man vs. wild – suburbs style. Rye convened the meeting in response to the two recent coyote attacks in the city.
"Make yourself a formidable foe" if you come across a coyote said Wildlife biologist Kevin Clarke of the New York State Department of
Environmental Conservation who provided an informative overview of the eastern coyote.
(PHOTO: Rye Commish Connors and Wildlife biologist Kevin Clarke of the State DEC (right) address the crowd, the council and the (media) cabal. See MyRye.com's photo album of the coyote cabal.)
"Punch it, kick it… don't just roll up into a ball… do what you have to do to protect your family," said Clarke while dispensing his coyote brief. Clarke said the problem coyotes need to be removed and others in the area need to be "reconditioned" – to re-learn their fear of humans (AKA Rye residents).
All presenters – Clarke, Rye PD Commish Connors, Mayor Doug French – were consistent in their message that the goal is co-existence based on re-instilling a healthy fear of humans among coyotes. Eradication is not the goal.
- Summer camps have been assigning counselors "air horn" duty – look outs to watch for coyotes.
- Yesterday the county helicopter was called in by Rye PD to search for a coyote on Apawamis golf course (not successful)
- One trapper told Commish Connors that "a coyote is a 100 trap animal" – that they are smart and notoriously hard to trap
- Last night a coyote was sighted at Rye Golf Club with a woodchuck in its mouth
- In placing traps there is always the risk of "non-target entrapment" – the city wants to catch coyotes in leg hold traps – not kids, pets, runners
- In response to a question if coyotes could swim and could they be coming down from Connecticut from Deputy Mayor Suzanna Keith (always have to watch that Nutmeg state…) the DEC's Clarke said "the ones we have to worry about are the ones that are here."
- In response to Councilman Joe Sack's question as to what can individual Rye residents do, Commish Connors expressed concern about vigilantism (leave the shooting up the the pros please…). The Commish will accept offers to place traps on private property (email your offer to firstname.lastname@example.org – 500 word essay as to why you want the trap on your property is not required)
- DEC's Clarke did suggest some actions to take – stop feeding your cats and dogs outside, take bird feeders in, make your outdoor cat an indoor cat (or a coyote will make it lunch). Coyotes "get into these urban settings and its a smorgasbord." In response to a question from Westchester rep Judy Myers Clarke thought removing a compost pile might help.
- Why were children attacked? people asked. "I think it is more of an opportunistic behavior," said the DEC's Clarke. "I just think its an experimentation".
- Deputy Mayor Suzanna Keith asked if law enforcement was shooting from the search helicopter and if more broadly Rye PD was using live ammo or something else to shoot at the coyotes. Commish Connors: "People don't shoot from helicopters…" but "we are using normal bullets."
- One resident asked if using wolf urine on property might help.
- County police have been in the Marshlands searching for coyotes the last two nights.
"We have a red flag on the beach," said Commish Connors. Residents are going to want a green flag and we will only be able to "give a yellow flag. Criminals are so much easier."