After reviewing some research, Princeton’s Animal Control Advisory Committee has recommended to Princeton Council that a plan to hire sharpshooters to cull the area’s growing coyote herd be scrapped in favor of an effort to educate the public about how to discourage interaction with the animals. The committee will revisit the issue next year before hunting season begins, and make another recommendation to the governing body.
“We considered recommending a culling program, and we put it in writing after our October 3 meeting,” said Council president Bernie Miller, a member of the committee. “But we’ve reviewed a lot of literature since then, and a lot of authors recommend that an education program is really the most effective way of controlling interactions between coyotes and humans. Culling is not productive, because it leads to inbreeding of coyotes and dogs and the population quickly returns to pre-culling levels.”
Coyotes don’t have any rival predators in suburban areas like Princeton, Mr. Miller said. Once they are eliminated, a new population of them moves in. There are approximately 40 t0 60 coyotes living in and around the community right now. The Institute Woods and Princeton Community Village have reported the most frequent sightings of the animals. According to Mr. Miller, the town’s Animal Control Officer Mark Johnson spotted a coyote a few hundred feet from the municipal complex a few days ago.
While they are not known to be aggressive toward humans, coyotes will go after smaller animals. Mr. Johnson, who answered questions from Council at the meeting, advised that pet food never be left outside, because it attracts the animals. He also recommended that pets not be left outdoors.
Anyone who encounters a coyote should back away, and make eye contact. “Don’t run С that’s the most important thing,” said Councilwoman Jo Butler, who has also done some research on the issue. “If you run, it switches to a predator/prey situation,” Mr. Johnson added. “And don’t turn your back. You’ve got to be the aggressor.”
Some people have reported being chased by coyotes, and there have been reports of a dog and some cats being killed by the animals. The possibility of rabies is a concern, but Mr. Miller said the town would be vigilant about identifying potential cases. Mr. Johnson has been advised by the committee to destroy any coyote dens if he happens upon them.
“We want people to understand that we have coyotes in Princeton,” Mr. Miller said earlier on Monday. “There is nothing to fear. But they will go after pets.”
Ms. Butler suggested that state representatives come in to talk about coyotes, as they did about bears when those animals were spotted in the area last summer.
The committee had looked into the possibility of combining a coyote hunt with the White Buffalo organization’s annual deer cull. But Anthony Denicola of that group said that since the habits of deer and coyotes are very different, a cull would likely not be effective, Mr. Miller said.
The town is expected to vote for continuation of culling the local deer herd, using a mix of sharpshooters from White Buffalo and recreational bow hunters. The hunt would begin either the end of this year or early in 2014. Mr. Miller said that the ability to get state approval for the sharpshooters is contingent on the Council approving the recreational hunt.