The Humane Society of the United States is speaking out as the town of Westport, Connecticut, is considering changes to the current town code to allow the use of trapping to control coyotes. The proposed change would allow homeowners or the town Board of Selectman to hire wildlife trappers to trap and remove coyotes from private and public property. Coyotes would likely be captured using leghold traps.
“Trapping is cruel, ineffective and indiscriminate,” said Annie Hornish, Connecticut senior state director for the HSUS. “Using trap-and-kill methods is the wrong approach for managing human-wildlife conflicts. Indeed, using lethal control methods, such as trapping, can often make the problem much worse. The town of Westport should reject this ill-advised proposal.”
Indiscriminate trapping and killing of coyotes destabilizes coyote packs, which increases both coyote populations and problem behaviors. Non-target wildlife and even family pets like dogs and cats can be caught in traps set for coyotes, putting them at risk of injury.
“Leghold traps, the type of trap commonly used to capture coyotes, are inhumane,” said Charlene Zeiberg of Westport. “These devices can break bones, and trapped animals can dislocate joints and break teeth as they struggle to free themselves. Animals caught in leghold traps can twist or chew off their limb in a desperate attempt to escape.”
Humane, effective and science-based solutions to conflicts with coyotes include: reducing and removing food attractants; ensuring that pets are not left outside unattended; and hazing habituated coyotes with loud noises, by spraying water, and by throwing objects towards a coyote to maintain or reestablish the animal’s fear of humans to deter them from neighborhood areas. Additional information for communities, including a model coyote management and coexistence plan, can be found at humanesociety.org/coyotes.
On March 16, 2017, the Environment, Public Protection and Parks, and Parks and Recreation committees voted down the recommendation to amend the town code that prohibits trapping and hunting in Westport. The full vote will be Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.
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