EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Haverhill

August 2, 2007

Agents can kill nuisance coyotes

James Conserva’s job title is problem animal control agent. In his line of work he gets frequent calls from people worried about coyotes in their yards, but he couldn’t do anything about it until now.

Thanks to new regulations adopted this week by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Conserva can now be hired to kill the coyotes. The regulation was accompanied by a five-week extension of the coyote hunting season.

“Before I could go out and show them different means for keeping out the coyote; tell them they could put a fence up,” said Conserva who owns City Wildlife and Pest Management in North Andover. “But people don’t want to hear that.”

The new regulations raised concerns from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals that it would open up bounty hunting for the animals, which are not dangerous just because they are in the yard.

“If you see it or hear it howling, that is not a public safety threat,” said Scott Giacoppo, director of the MSPCA advocacy department. “Now a private contractor can come in the yard and they are going to want to kill that animal for money. In a matter of months, a new coyote will show up.”

He said the best way to get rid of a coyote is to not give it any reason to hang around, such as keeping pets inside and securely covering trash cans and compost heaps.

“Our stance on it is if you have a coyote in the community, you should take steps to minimize conflicts. Once they don’t view the yard as a food source, then you won’t have conflicts,” Giacoppo said.

Tom O’Shea, assistant director of wildlife at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, defended the regulations, saying that when there is a legitimate problem, people should have a way to remove the animal. It is against the law to move the animal to a different neighborhood, so the animal must be killed by trapping or shooting it.

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