Officials in Nahant, Massachusetts, voted Wednesday to allow federal officials to hunt a growing aggressive coyote population that threatens the town’s residents.
The town will become the first in the state to apply these methods toward coyotes. In recent years, the species have become a nuisance to residents, including biting and chasing individuals and snatching pets.
“The town of Nahant, like many other communities, has been dealing with habituated coyotes with multiple documented cases of aggressive behavior toward residents,” Board Chairman Gene Canty said in a statement Wednesday.
“MassWildlife has authorized our community to dispatch the problem coyotes but our legal options of ways to do that are limited, ineffective, and not practical,” Canty added.
Nahant officials will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Wildlife Services, which will deploy trained rifle professionals to hunt the coyotes and to train others.
Agency officials will use equipment such as night-vision, thermal-imaging scopes, and spotlights. All activities are permitted under a special permit from the state’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife).
However, not all Nahunt residents approve of the new plan.
“Oh my god, this is just sickening, horrible,” resident Francene Amari-Faulkner told WCVB. She would instead prefer the town learn to coexist with the coyotes and deal with nuisance ones in non-lethal ways.
“It’s like leaving teenagers without parents. And those are the wolves that tend, and coyotes that tend, to get into rogue behavior,” Amari-Faulkner added.
Despite the objections of some residents, the town has already tried to control the problem humanely but with little-to-no success.
Furthermore, only three coyotes have been successfully trapped across Massachusetts in the past ten years using the box cage trap, which is the only legal method for coyotes in the state, according to MassWildlife.
One town official says he would like to see legislative action taken to deal with the problem differently but acknowledge the town does not have many options.
“When a Town is given authority to eliminate habituated animals but can’t because the tools to do so aren’t practical, the Town is put in a very difficult position,” Town Administrator Antonio Barletta said.
“Without a legislative change, communities like Nahant will be put in a position to consider the discharging of firearms to eliminate problem animals, creating one risk in an effort to eliminate another,” Barletta added.
Barletta noted the town had seen a growing number of interactions between humans and coyotes in recent years.
In July, two people were bitten by a coyote in the same parking lot three weeks apart. Residents have also reported that coyotes have chased and attacked toddlers and small children in separate incidents over the past two years. Pets have also been frequently targeted by the canine species.
The number of incidents had become so frequent a Facebook page was started called “Nahant Coyote Victims” for residents to spread awareness of the potential danger the animal poses while others share stories of their encounters, the Boston Globe reported.
Nahant officials believe the program will cost $5,000 to $10,000, WCVB noted.
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