Centennial has a plan. After months of fielding complaints, meeting with wildlife experts and some considerable chin scratching, the city has …
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Centennial has a plan.
After months of fielding complaints, meeting with wildlife
experts and some considerable chin scratching, the city has
developed a basic course of action to deal with the perceived
problem of urban coyotes.
City manager Jacque Wedding-Scott presented an official coyote
management plan to the city council Jan. 21 and the council reached
consensus that Centennial should move forward with the proposed mix
of educational outreach, coyote monitoring and restrained
The educational component includes encouraging residents to
remove pet food, fallen fruit and other such items from their
lawns, to install 6-foot privacy fences, and above all, to never
intentionally feed a coyote, among other advisories.
The council may also consider ordinances to allow higher fences
and to legally prohibit the feeding of wildlife.
The program includes elements of “coexistence” with coyotes and
use of so-called “hazing” methods to instill fear of humans in the
According to figures provided by the city, it would cost the
city $100,000 to implement the program. The annual figure includes
$25,000 to $35,000 for a part-time wildlife ecologist, $25,000 in
other part-time staff support and about $20,000 in educational
materials and postage.
In the case of killing coyotes that have become habitual
problems, the city would expect to spend about $1,000 to identify
each aggressive coyote, $8,000 to hire a trapper and $1,500 for a
The city has already begun efforts to educate the public about
coyotes by distributing brochures and reaching out to neighborhoods
and school districts. A prominently displayed coyote incident
report system also has been added to the city Web site.
The emphasis on coyote monitoring and education was the result
of widespread anecdotes of coyotes in the city and positive
feedback to a Dec. 8 council meeting at which representatives from
the Colorado Division of Wildlife and others made a detailed
presentation to the council and public.
Ashley Delaup, a wildlife ecologist for the City and County of
Denver, told the council that killing coyotes often results in even
larger coyote populations in the future because the animal tends to
overcompensate for its losses.
Further, according to Jack Murphy, director of Denver-based
Urban Wildlife Rescue, when mating alpha males are killed or
otherwise removed from the population, it can wreak havoc, causing
young coyotes who would not normally mate to do so.
Although last month’s presentation — which favored co-existence
with coyotes over lethal measures — did anything but simplify the
issue for a council seeking clear solutions, many in the audience
later complimented the council for helping to disseminate
little-known information about coyote behavior.
“We’re talking to schools. We’re talking to residents,”
Wedding-Scott said of Centennial’s educational outreach. “When we
know we have a [problem] in a particular area, we target that area
with literature and educational materials.”
For example, city staff recently visited a local elementary
school that had reported coyote activity and found such things as
underbrush and uncovered trash lids, both of which are attractive
to the animals.
The city will continue to use the Web-based incident reporting
system to learn where the coyotes are showing up in Centennial.
Councilmembers asked that citizens be asked to report such details
as the physical description of the coyote — and if a coyote attacks
a pet, what time of day the attack occurred and if the attacked pet
was on a leash at the time.
Many cities have similar reporting systems, and according to
Wedding-Scott, Centennial should consider sharing its data with
The city uses four general classifications for coyote
Observation —The act of noticing or taking note of coyote
tracks, scat or vocalizations
Sighting — A visual observation of a coyote
Encounter — An unexpected direct meeting between a human and a
coyote without incident
Incident —A conflict between a human and a coyote where a coyote
exhibits behavior that creates an unsafe situation for the
Some on council would like to see Centennial amend its official
classifications, even though such a move would potentially
complicate sharing data with other governments and agencies.
District 3 Councilmember Rebecca McClellan suggested that the
state’s classifications carry too high of a burden to be tenable
among her constituents who have complained of interactions with
“The department of wildlife’s definitions are something I would
not find acceptable,” she said. “It’s my understanding it’s not an
attack [under the state Division of Wildlife system] unless the
skin is broken or if the coyote literally bites someone.”
All the talk about education and reporting procedure caused
District 3’s Patrick Anderson to wonder if citizens might get the
wrong idea about the city’s priorities.
“One of the complaints we’ve gotten in the past is somebody’s
pet gets attacked and they get a brochure saying you’ve got to live
with coyotes,” he said. “I want to make sure our citizens
understand that it isn’t just an educational program.”
Targeted killing of specific problem coyotes appears to be a
more popular scenario than a sweeping extermination policy.
It is illegal to relocate coyotes in Colorado.
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