The Examiner

New Castle to Weigh Proposed Coyote Plan as Tensions Mount

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New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, pictured here in April, addresses the town board on the coyote issue as Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee chair Victoria Alzapiedi looks on.
New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, pictured here in April, addresses the town board on the coyote issue as Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee chair Victoria Alzapiedi looks on.

The New Castle Town Board received a proposed coyote response plan from Police Chief Charles Ferry last week but the matter sparked another confrontation between Supervisor Robert Greenstein and the chair of one of two advisory committees.

The plan, written by Ferry and Environmental Coordinator Stephen Coleman, was posted on the town’s website last Wednesday. Officials are asking for public comments on the proposal before it considers adopting the eight-page document. It outlines recommended actions for citizens to follow for situations ranging from a coyote sighting to an unprovoked attack.

Tonight (Tuesday) the board is also poised to vote on whether to officially disband the two advisory groups, the Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee and the Coyote Management Task Force. The committees provided the town with information and recommendations on dealing with the local coyote population and potential responses and education strategies to help shape the plan.

Tensions have simmered as both groups have been at odds over the issue of whether there should be trapping and the possibility of lethal measures. While both groups cite awareness and education as key components for public safety, the committee has opposed trapping or killing except in the most extreme situations. The task force has recommended greater latitude for authorities if a problem coyote menaces a person or an attended pet.

Victoria Alzapiedi, chair of the Coyote Awareness and Safety Advisory Committee, said at last Tuesday night’s town board work session that the committee has repeatedly failed to be notified regarding coyote-related decisions, including the board’s consideration to disband the committees as early as this week.

She then argued that the proposed plan omits key information from her group’s work.

“Even though we’re technically not experts, there’s a lot of information that we could share with you to really dig deeper,” Alzapiedi said. “We took a huge amount of holistic data and scrunched it into a relatively short proposal expecting that we’d be able to drill down with all of you, get more nuanced, go into an understanding, answer questions. There are topics that haven’t even been touched upon.”

Furthermore, Alzapiedi said she learned that Greenstein helped arrange for the task force to meet with Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials in New Paltz but never afforded that opportunity to her group.

“The sense is it really felt like, wow, we worked so hard on this only to find behind the scenes months ago there was a unilateral move that had no mention of us,” said Alzapiedi.

Greenstein brushed off the allegation, thanked both committees for their contributions and said it was time for the board to address other pressing issues.

“It’s time to adopt a policy and move on,” Greenstein said.

Councilman Jason Chapin jumped into the discussion, saying he was disturbed with how Greenstein has exhibited favoritism toward one committee, which triggered a brief but terse exchange between the two men.

“Victoria just raised something that’s very troubling to me, that you would contact a state agency and they could request what benefits one committee, one group and not another, and not inform the board,” Chapin said. “That’s overreaching.”

“Jason, my friend,” Greenstein responded before Chapin cut him off.

“Don’t be sarcastic. I hate when you do that,” Chapin shot back. “It’s very obnoxious.”

Greenstein then explained that it was the task force which initiated the idea of a meeting with DEC and Ferry. During that discussion, in which the chief participated in a conference call, the issue of an annual permit was raised so the town may take action throughout the year, if necessary. Greenstein said Ferry supported an annual permit if one could be obtained.

However, he accused Alzapiedi of trying to supersede the chief when she contacted DEC on her own and supposedly told the agency the town was handling the issue and didn’t need an annual permit.

“The more troubling thing about this whole little story is the fact that we have a member of a task force who overrode our chief of police’s recommendations,” Greenstein said. “That to me is very troubling and I think that’s a perfect example of why we need to speak with one voice.”





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