Massachusetts Town to Use Sharpshooters to Kill Problem Coyotes

By author of The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Some residents are against using lethal methods to control the wild canine population

A Massachusetts’ community is the first in the state to use sharpshooters to kill problem coyotes.

Town officials say coyotes have taken a pet off its leash while under the control of its owner three times this year.

According to wcvb.com, Nahant officials voted to sign an agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services to help address the issue.

“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. “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.”

At some point over the next several weeks, sharpshooters will stake out places in the community where coyotes congregate, such as the composting site, and will take them out in the middle of the night with rifles.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) estimates there are a dozen coyotes in the one-square-mile suburban area of Nahant, which is more than what is considered typical.

Despite the problems caused by the coyotes, some are against the plan to shoot them.

“Oh my god, this is just sickening, horrible,” said resident Francene Amari-Faulkner.

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Amari-Faulkner says the town should instead encourage people to coexist with coyotes, and that the plan to shoot them could cause the remaining coyotes to become more aggressive, especially if older animals are taken.

“It's like leaving teenagers without parents. And those are the wolves that tend, and coyotes that tend, to get into rogue behavior,” she said.

But, according to the town, the non-lethal efforts taken so far, such as trapping, have proven unsuccessful.

“MassWildlife officials have taught us that the focus of our response to an increased population of coyotes in our town has to be education,” said Selectman Josh Antrim. “However, when coyotes become habituated and present a major significant public safety risk, we have to consider all legal means to eliminate that risk.”

Wildlife Services will utilize trained rifle experts, who will also train others. They’ll use night-vision, thermal-imaging scopes, and spotlights.

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