Saturday, March 1, 2003

Fairfield won't shoot coyotes

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRFIELD - Sharpshooters will not be dispatched to curtail the city's coyote population despite resident complaints.

Instead, Fairfield officials say the best way to approach the issue is to launch a public education campaign about how to live with coyotes, and have police monitor the situation.

• Keep garbage and garbage cans in the garage. Secure lids.
• Put kitchen compost only in an animal-proof bin.
• Do not feed pets outside and bring in all food and water dishes at night.
• Cover ripe fruits and vegetables at night. Enclose gardens and fruit trees with fencing. Pick up fallen fruit and vegetables.
• Do not leave small animals out after dark.
• Do not put cats outside. If you must let your cats out, put them out during midday. Bring them in before dark.
• Never cut an outdoor cat's nails or put a declawed cat outside.
• Do not put a bell on your cat.
• Fence your yard.
City of Fairfield Web site
Police Chief Michael Dickey had contemplated hiring sharpshooters or trappers if the coyote problem was determined to be dangerous.

But most City Council members say the coyotes are not out of control, and the population isn't large enough to warrant such a drastic move.

"Experts far and wide have said they don't pose a danger to humans," Dickey said. "This is one of those situations where there may be people who aren't happy with the decision. However, there are many people who think we should do exactly what we are doing, which is public education."

Some residents have complained to the police department that coyotes are roaming subdivisions, placing children and small pets at risk.

Fairfield's neighbor to the south, Springdale, had a similar problem last year and hired sharpshooters after a pack of coyotes killed a 10-pound poodle. One coyote was killed.

In a recent letter to Dickey, resident Michael Land accused police and city officials of not taking the hazard seriously, and warned they risk a potential lawsuit.

"We live in a neighborhood infested with coyotes," reads the Jan. 22 letter. "The response from the city of Fairfield is - live with it! I find that a pathetic response and one I feel is unacceptable as a caring adult and taxpayer."

Residents are not permitted to shoot coyotes, the police chief said. They usually leave once they see humans.

"They are wary themselves and don't even get in that close," Dickey said. "People who have lived around here for years see them occasionally and accept them."


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