The Examiner

Chappaqua’s Random Farms Decides on More Coyote Traps

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Chappaqua resident Victoria Alzapiedi led a press conference on Tuesday explaining why coyote trapping should be avoided.
Chappaqua resident Victoria Alzapiedi led a press conference on Tuesday explaining why coyote trapping should be avoided.

The Random Farms Homeowners Association decided this week to enter into a second agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to set up coyote traps on portions of the development’s property.

The decision for the USDA to place foothold traps for a five-day period was made at the association’s June 22 meeting, according to Jeanine Neskey, a spokeswoman for the agency’s Wildlife Services division.

Neskey said Friday afternoon that the latest operation has also been approved by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). She did not say when the five-day trapping period was scheduled to begin.

Homeowners have been advised by the association of its decision and to encourage pet owners to leash and accompany their pets outside to avoid coyote attacks and interference with the devices. Neskey also stressed the importance of covering open garbage cans, avoiding feeding pets outside and bringing bird feeders indoors at night to reduce the chances of attracting coyotes.

Signs have been placed near the traps to advise anyone who enters the property.

Despite the second trapping period, Neskey said Random Farms has been informed that there will continue to be coyote sightings.

“Wildlife Services has advised the association that the plan will not eliminate the presence of coyotes altogether, but will seek to reduce the number of habituated or aggressive coyotes in (the) neighborhood,” Neskey said.

Confirmation of a second trap comes less than a week after it was learned that one coyote had been captured during the previous seven-day trapping period from June 13 to June 20. That animal was euthanized shortly after its capture.

A call to Random Farms Homeowners Association President Alan Bluestine was not returned. A woman who answered the phone at the Katonah Management Group, which oversees the Random Farms development, told The Examiner that “we’re not speaking with anybody from the outside on that.”

Trapping has angered pro-animal advocates and conservationists in town who once again argued earlier this week that trapping is inhumane and often fails, leading to increased coyote activity in the area.

Victoria Alzapiedi was one of about 10 residents who held a press conference last Tuesday evening outside the Wallace Auditorium at Chappaqua Crossing where the New Castle Town Board was holding its meeting. She stressed that more education, not trapping, was needed to safely live with coyotes.

She said many residents expressed “concern, disappointment, outrage” at the decision to trap.

“It’s really important that Random Farms and other parts of our community know that coyotes live here. We’ll continue to see them,” Alzapiedi said. “Instead of being alarmed about it and pushing back and being at war with nature, now is the time to see how we can safely co-exist.”

Alzapiedi, the chair of one of two coyote advisory committees appointed by the town board in 2014 to develop a Coyote Response Plan and the current chair of the town’s Conservation Board, said vigilance by dog owners to keep their pets on a leash while walking, having homeowners fence in their yards and learning proper hazing techniques to ward off potential coyote threats is critical.

“You just learn. You walk them on a leash,” said Chappaqua resident Barbara LeSauvage, who attended the press conference. “You don’t let them out in the front yard just to roam.”

Alzapiedi explained that trapping is often unsuccessful because if an alpha male in a coyote family is eliminated, transient male coyotes move in leading to breeding not only with the female but with its yearlings, which increases the population.

Supervisor Robert Greenstein this week reiterated Random Farms’ right to make the best decision on behalf of its homeowners and that its permission to trap is in accordance with state and federal regulations.

He said, however, that the issue is being transformed into a full-scale controversy because of “a fringe group of activists who believe that trapping is never appropriate.”

“The town’s Coyote Response Plan recommends a measured approach to coyote encounters where trapping is a last resort option to deal with an aggressive and dangerous animal,” Greenstein said. “Our focus has always been on education and prevention, but while recognizing that, in some cases the safety risk to residents and pets may require a stronger response.”

Greenstein added that The Humane Society has praised New Castle’s plan and called it “a model for communities across the country.”

Alzapiedi said the coyote that attacked a dog on May 18 on Random Farms Drive, one of two attacks in a nine-day span, was not aggressive because once the dog owner confronted it, the coyote retreated. It was her understanding that the dog was off-leash and running ahead of its owner.

Neskey said the USDA is using best management practices regarding the traps, where tension is adjusted to avoid harm to non-target animals and the target coyote. Any coyote trapped is quickly and humanely euthanized in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines on euthanasia, she said.

Calls placed last week to Kevin Clarke, a biologist for DEC’s Region 3 in New Paltz, were not returned.




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