October 9, 2013

Culling of Herrontown, Institute Coyotes To Be Recommended To Council

A growing population of coyotes in the wooded area bordering the Institute for Advanced Study and in the Herrontown Woods has motivated the Princeton Animal Control Advisory Committee to recommend that sharpshooters be hired to help handle the problem.

The group met last week and will present their recommendations to Princeton Council at its meeting October 14, said Princeton animal control officer Mark Johnson. “There is a big pack over at the Institute Woods,” he said this week. “I’m having a lot of complaints that they follow people around. Not everyone keeps their dog on a leash, though they’re supposed to, and that’s part of the problem.”

In the Herrontown Woods, a dog was killed by coyotes. “I’ve also had people at Princeton Community Village chased by them, going from one building to the next,” Mr. Johnson said. Requests to allow hunting at the Institute and Herrontown Woods have been submitted, but have yet to be answered.

“We have a request into the Institute, but whether they say yea or nay, that’s a different story,” Mr. Johnson said. “They have their own personal hunting group in there for deer, but we have not had any access over there for years. We also have a request in to Herrontown Woods for removal of coyotes, but haven’t heard an answer yet.”

Christine Ferrara, spokesperson for the Institute, said no decision has been made on whether to allow sharpshooters to hunt the coyotes. “We’re at the beginning of the process,” she said. “We do have bow hunters who have a structured path along which they hunt deer. It’s pretty well controlled and monitored.”

Should Council vote to approve the coyote hunt, which would be the first in Princeton, it would take place during New Jersey’s regular hunting and trapping season November 9 to March 15, 2014. Hunters would not need a special permit but would have to follow state guidelines, Mr. Johnson said.

The town has hired White Buffalo Inc. to cull herds of deer in past years. The company is based in Connecticut.

The biggest threat posed by coyotes is “severe bodily harm to children and animals,” Mr. Johnson said. “So far we’ve had people chased by them, one dog killed, and they’ve been following people around in some locations.”

Anyone followed by a coyote should try to scare the animal off. “The human is the top predator, and you have to let the coyote know that,” Mr. Johnson said. “Either turn around and run at it, clap your hands, or yell at it. Let him know that they’re not top dog. It works.”

Council’s vote at the meeting next Monday would also include annual approval for the deer management program. The initiative was created 13 years ago when deer were causing road accidents and harming vegetation.