Coyote control presentation stresses hazing tacticsJul 22nd, 2011 | By William Dilella | Category: news
Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist with The Humane Society of the United States, traveled from Washington D.C. to consult with Parish animal control officers, Health Department Superintendent Raymond Ferrer and the Parish Council on the most effective means for controlling the coyote situation—which has claimed several pets in the Parish this year. Dasher stressed that elimination was not the optimum solution, but cohabitation and altering the behavior of the people in the Parish as well as the coyotes.
“We’ve been with the coyote problem for years now,” Ferrer said. This is why Ferrer, after meeting with the council members on what course to take, contacted the Humane Society, who in turn sent Dasher. The Parish hoped to avoid unnecessary spending on futile tactics by working with the agency, who has experience in the field and source data from countless counties across America.
The problem is not a lack of food leading the coyotes further in, Dasher said, but rather people giving the coyotes access to easier food sources.
“[Coyotes] eat mice and rodents, and there is a wide variety here,” Dasher said. “But coyotes are going to take advantage of the free buffet we’re putting out for them.”
So, the high river levels may have led to more coyotes encroaching on residential neighborhoods, since there are less tracts of land on the levees to run along, but the truth is that coyotes are always around, said Dasher, even if people don’t always see them.
“People rarely see them, even though we live relatively close,” said Dasher.
The relatively low-incidents of contact between people and coyotes is what leads some residents, according to Dasher, to believe trapping or exterminating the coyotes is a proper solution—out of the belief the animals are few in number.
Dasher said that these methods are not only unsuccessful and costly, but impossible to accomplish. That assertion seems to match the Parish’s own data. In the time the Parish has spent placing and replacing the twelve traps it already has—at a cost of $3,000 thus far—not one coyote has been captured by the office.
Dasher was not surprised by this data, as she said the animals are instinctively smart, and even if they had managed to catch one coyote, catching another would be that much harder. Coyotes will teach each other how to avoid items, animals or situations that could pose a risk. However, that same behavior can be used to haze the coyotes away from people and property, like chasing them away with water from a hose or yelling at them.
Since the brash behavior exhibited by the coyotes is habituated by human habits just as much as the coyote’s, it’s important to educate people. Pets that are left unattended are identified as a food source by coyotes, because if the owner is not standing with the pet, there is no reason for the coyote to associate a dog or cat with a human being. Other items Dasher addressed were neglected fruit trees that drop food to the ground, open trash containers, and pet food bowls that are left outside. All of these aspects of human behavior draw in the coyotes that had always been there, and once the coyotes are here there is a higher rate of incidents, which leads to the unnecessary trapping and killing.
“Not that I’m skeptical of the hazing—trying to train a wild animal—but is it absolutely impossible to eradicate these coyotes?” Councilman Byron Marinovich, District 8, asked.
“It would be impossible…and it would be a tremendous amount of money and resources,” Dasher said. Not only that, but studies in other areas, such as Denver and in Cook County, Illinois, show that coyotes recover their numbers at a rapid rate. When Denver spent time and money ridding the area of 75-percent of the coyote population over a period of seven years, the coyote population recouped itself in about seven months according to Dasher.
“If you killed 80 or 90 percent of them, and you didn’t get them all, they’re going to come right back…even if you did kill 100 percent, you’ll get coyotes coming from outside areas to fill the vacancy.”
“The coyotes are here to stay,” Dasher said. “So we have to teach them what we are going to tolerate and what we are not.”
“The way I understand it, what it boils down to is human behavior,” said Council Chairman Dr. Stuart Guey. “We have to have an attitude that will result in a behavioral change in the animal.”
The Health Department will be sponsoring several educational meetings in the coming weeks on the coyotes, proper hazing tactics, and updates for the community.
Other Council Agenda Items:
• The Council approved a moratorium on all permits for all truck stop gambling facilities by a narrow margin, pending the completion of the Parish Land-Use Study to be completed later this year. Upon completion of the study, according to the legislation introduced by Chairman Guey, the Parish will be able to implement more specific and appropriate zoning ordinances to control or allow such establishments. However, there were contentions to this argument.
“We’re protecting a monopoly here,” Marinovich said, whose concern was that since one such establishment already exists in the Parish, this moratorium would be unfair to any potential business owner that may seek to open a similar establishment.
“The public responded the last time [when the moratorium was first introduced] and it was perfectly clear to me the people don’t want gambling in Plaquemines Parish,” said Councilman Anthony Buras of District 5.
“I don’t know how we can protect one and deny another,” said Marinovich.
The moratorium passed by vote of 5-3 with Jeff Edgecombe of District 7, Byron Marinovich of District 8 and Council woman Marla Cooper of District 9 voting no, and Burghart Tuner of District 6 abstaining.
• The Council deferred a resolution that would have granted Parish President Billy Nungesser to enter into negotiations for additional Counsel—namely Martzell Bickford—in the Parish’s claims and for filing litigation against BP, Transocean, and the other entities responsible for the explosion and oil spill disaster in April 2010. At present, the Council members, specifically Councilman Lepine, said they could see no reason for hiring additional legal advisors, when the Council already passed a resolution on this matter.
“I was on the phone with Bickford and he said, in no uncertain terms, we do no not need additional councel,” said Lepine.
Councilman Buras brought up the contract the Council has already approved, but had yet to be signed. By Parish law, the Parish President must either sign the contract, veto it, or in 10 days it becomes effective.
The Council deferred any action, until further information could be presented by Nungesser himself.
• Three resolutions passed by a vote of 8-1 that dismissed the 25th Judicial Court proceedings between the Plaquemines Parish Council and the Parish President, in response to administration records being made available to the Council concerning actions following Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, and the company All South Consulting Engineers’ contracts with the parish.
“Though it’s a little late in coming, I will admit, I have spent the past month-and-a-half…going through these cd’s, and looking at approximately 50,000 documents,” Marinovich said.
“I do believe that all the documentation is there,” Marinovich continued. “I do have concerns from what I looked through. I’ll dispense with the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and the FBI is looking into these matters at this time, as I well feel they should… I feel when you are dealing with tens and tens of millions of dollars, this is something that should be looked into thoroughly.”
Among the issues Marinovich identified from combing the documents were Parish employees listed as agents for third party companies—while they were employed by the Parish—and sums of money that crosses with campaign donations.
“I’m not saying anything borders on criminality or lack of ethics on anyone’s part,” Marinovich said. “I’m not even going to limit this to one administration…[but] if anyone wishes to make the criminal case later, we have that information now.”
The three resolutions passed 8-1, with Councilman Lepine dissenting. A fourth resolution, regarding the borrow-pits was deferred for now until more questions can be answered by the Parish President.
• The Council approved changes to the civil service code 9-0, clarifying the language in the exceptional candidate hiring regarding pay raises and introductory compensation. Under the previous wording, it would have been possible for an employee being hired by the Parish to come in at an increased rate under the exceptional candidate status, up to 15 grades higher, and also qualify for a bonus at the end of the probationary period.
In addition, where ever the entry level employee came in at would become the new base level. The new language removes any inequities from the regulations.