Public Outcry Prompts Talks to Reduce Coyote Population
Middletown Police Chief Anthony Pesare informed the Town Council Tuesday night that local and state wildlife experts will meet March 7 to discuss more "short term solutions" to coyote problems on Aquidneck Island.
Given the strong community turnout at last week’s coyote summit and more complaints lodged since, local and state officials are taking a closer look at more immediate ways to reduce the coyote population on Aquidneck Island.
Middletown Police Chief Anthony Pesare informed the Town Council Tuesday night that another meeting with the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and other local wildlife experts has been set for March 7 as a result of the public outcry heard from residents.
“People are anxious for short term solutions,” Pesare said. “Those are the kinds of things we have to address with the experts.”
He later added, “Whereas the summit was more of an informational exchange, our next meeting is going to be more of an action agenda, to figure out the next steps we can take.”
Since last week’s Aquidneck Island Coyote Summit, which Pesare had organized with state Sen. Lou DiPalma (D-District 12) and Rep. Deborah Ruggiero (D-District 74), local law enforcement and Town Council members have reported hearing more concerns about coyote problems from the public, officials reported.
Town Council member Christopher Semonelli was appointed as the council’s liaison on the matter on Tuesday night. He said he was surprised by how many residents had turned out to the forum and shared similar concerns. He’s also received a number of emails from town residents, he said.
“If thinning the herd is needed, I support that,” Semonelli told Pesare and the Town Council.
Nearly 300 island residents and town representatives had attended last week’s meeting. Many people spoke about frightening close encounters with the wild canines and shared stories of killed or missing pets.
Local and state wildlife experts at the meeting attributed the root cause of the problem to people feeding the coyotes and explained that long-term solutions must include a public awareness campaign to get people to stop feeding the animals, whether intentional or not. When people stop feeding them, stop leaving food outside and ensure their garbage is secure, the coyotes eventually will either starve or leave the island, they said.
Pesare said the March 7 meeting in Middletown will bring together many of the local and state officials who attended the coyote summit, such as DEM enforcement officials, animal control, experts from the Potter League for Animals and Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, and Dr. Numi Mitchell, who’s leading the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study. For the last two years, Mitchell’s study has tracked the coyote population through collaring and GPS technology.
The group will discuss “short-term solutions” that can be undertaken in conjunction with the more long-term public education and outreach campaigns originally suggested by the wildlife experts at the summit, Pesare said.
Coyote sightings or problems can be reported to DEM Wildlife Charles Brown at 789-0281. Middletown residents may also contact Police Chief Anthony Pesare at email@example.com.