A spiraling number of coyote sightings in Pleasantville forced village officials last week to devise suitable course of action to deal with coyote encounters in the community.
The Pleasantville Village Board discussed several scenarios to help the public, including when it’s appropriate for the village to pay for the cost to trap an animal. Officials also suggested hosting educational forums with experts to provide additional insight.
“The challenge we confront is how to go forward with a policy that identifies when we would support trapping,” Mayor Peter Scherer said. “There’s the unclear line between an animal that feels like it’s gotten too close to people and an animal that is actually a threat.”
With an uptick in reported coyote sightings in the village over the last two months, officials invited Kevin Clarke, a wildlife biologist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to speak with residents on Oct. 2.
During the forum, he said spotting coyotes is a trend that residents should become accustomed to with an increase of wildlife filtering into the Hudson Valley. He advised dog owners never to leave their pets unattended in a yard and for them to be walked on a short leash. He also recommended residents carry an air horn or whistle or carry a stick when they take their dogs out on walks. If a coyote approaches, they should make themselves appear to be aggressive to get the attention off their pets and scare the coyote away.
He also stressed that residents should keep their cats indoors and recommended residents erect a six-foot fence to keep coyotes out of the yard. The DEC will only issue a permit to a homeowner or municipality to remove a coyote if it exhibits threatening behavior, Clarke said.
While officials grappled with who would pay the cost of trapping a coyote, Trustee Joseph Stargiotti said the village has the responsibility if the DEC confirms the animal is a threat.
“We have a fair number of people asking for our help because they’re afraid of coyotes,” Stargiotti said. “As a village we owe it to our neighborhoods to help them with situations like this.”
Police Chief Erik Grutzner said he is currently working with a resident who was issued a permit by the DEC to trap an aggressive coyote. He said the animal trapper has hung cameras in the neighborhood and set up traps that will be checked every day.
Village Administrator Eric Morrissey said the expert suggested leaving the traps and cameras in place for three weeks. It will cost $835 a week to trap the coyote, Morrissey said.
“I’m happy to support us spending the money to help a neighborhood,” Stargiotti said.
Trustee Nicole Asquith stressed the need for additional outreach. She suggested a panel of experts provide residents, officials and the police department with the information they need to coexist with coyotes. With more education, she said the board can create a prevention-based policy, which she asserted is the best approach to resolve the issue.
“I think education is such an important piece of this because if people don’t learn how to fend them off and give them a clear signal to stay away, we’ll continue to have problems,” Asquith said. “We have to plan for the future because we’re all adjusting to this.”
While Scherer and Trustee Steve Lord agreed that research and education is an important component, Stargiotti said most residents just want the coyote removed from their property.
“There are people who are not going to want to go to those things and learn,” he said.
Scherer said the board would research and analyze neighboring coyote policies and consider a plan at the next meeting.