The Examiner

New Castle Officials Urged to Take Steps to Curtail Trapping

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A group of New Castle residents appealed to the town board last week to ask the Random Farms Homeowners Association to halt coyote trapping for 30 days so public education efforts on peaceful coexistence can be renewed.

Requests made by residents during the June 28 board meeting also included having the town explore whether it had the legal authority to pass a local law banning the use of steel traps within its jurisdiction.

Some of the roughly dozen speakers, outraged by what they described as the inhumane capture and subsequent death of a coyote on or about June 20 at the development, recommended to the board that the location of traps be posted on the interactive coyote map on the town’s website. Several people said they were concerned that if the general public is unaware there are traps in an area, pets and children could be at risk of getting hurt.

Resident Daniel Lauter said he and others who have been outspoken on this issue in recent weeks believe that Random Farms has ignored the town’s Coyote Response Plan, which the board approved last year.

“They’re not going to kill all the coyotes,” Lauter said. “What’s going to happen at that point? What’s going to happen every single year when more and more people with expectations come to Chappaqua? What do we do? Is there a way to work into this overall town plan some sort of contingency with how to handle these situations? Otherwise, the plan is not sustainable.”

The board directed Town Attorney Nicholas Ward-Willis to research whether a municipality has any standing to call for a moratorium on trapping or if it has the authority to regulate the types of traps used. It also wanted to see if information can be obtained on the locations of traps on private property to dispense to the general public.

Trapping is overseen either by the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Supervisor Robert Greenstein, who has been accused by some critics of assisting Random Farms in their request for trapping permits, tried to temper expectations with how much the town can legally do given that the permits were issued for private property and the activity is regulated by state and federal agencies.

“We can do our part with our Coyote Response Plan and educating residents and I think what we don’t want to do, we don’t want people to think that New Castle is a haven for coyotes,” Greenstein said. “This is a problem that’s not a New Castle problem. This is a problem that continues all over the country and all over the state and different communities handle it differently.”

Councilwoman Lisa Katz said while the town’s options are likely limited, officials planned on approaching Random Farms representatives with the plan to bolster education efforts.

“We will take our plan and make sure it is disseminated to their residents, that we get this education out there, that we enhance our education again and kind of move forward from there,” Katz said.

Tensions escalated after it was discovered that a coyote was trapped during the first seven-day trapping period that ended June 20. The USDA confirmed on June 24 that the Random Farms Homeowners Association had decided to pursue a second five-day trapping period but have not disclosed if and when additional traps have been set out.

Random Farms resident Julia Burton, who attended last week’s town board meeting, said communication with homeowners within the development has been poor on this issue. She said most of the residents found out of the homeowners association’s decision through an e-mail or Facebook post.

Burton said if a majority of residents in her community felt that this was the right thing to do she would support it, but there was apparently no consensus.

“I feel that the association was kind of hijacked,” she said. “There was no discussion ahead of time. There was nothing.”

Victoria Alzapiedi, the chair of one of two coyote committees that shaped the town’s response plan and an ardent opponent of trapping, said that her “disappointment is so great” because so much time was spent on strategies to avoid what has happened at Random Farms.

“We were so ahead of the curve of what we understand about coyote behavior and about ways to prevent attacks and to prevent any conflict with coyotes,” she said.


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