Town of New Castle DRAFT Coyote Response Plan

Town of New Castle
DRAFT Coyote Response
prepared by:
Stephen W. Coleman
Environmental Coordinator
Charles Ferry
Chief of Police
May 14, 2015
The intent of the Coyote Response Plan is to provide practical guidelines to assist Town
residents to live safely with coyotes and make an informed decision when dealing with a
coyote problem on their property. The Plan is designed to reduce potential conflicts by
promoting awareness and knowledge of the role coyote’s play in the New Castle
environment and informing property owners of New York State Laws regarding coyotes.
The Plan provides the Town’s coyote management protocols and responses that may
be used when specific coyote/human interactions and conflicts occur. The safety of the
Town’s residents is the main priority. The Town of New Castle recognizes the
environmental benefit of maintaining natural wildlife populations and habitats, and our
existing regulations provide protection of the Town’s rich and varied natural resources
and ecosystems. The Coyote Plan provides guidelines and strategies for safely coexisting with coyotes and should help citizens make an informed decision when they
encounter a coyote problem on their property.
In 2014, the New Castle Town Board created two committees to review the extent of
coyote/human interactions within the Town of New Castle and to submit a report of their
findings to the Town Board. The committees, which were comprised of Town residents,
submitted their reports to the Town Board on February 10, 2015. The New Castle
Coyote Management Task Force prepared a report titled “Town of New Castle Coyote
Management Plan”, and the Coyote Awareness & Safety Advisory Committee submitted
a report titled “Coyote Safety and Coexistence Plan”. Both of these reports were
reviewed and considered in the development of this Coyote Response Plan.
The Eastern Coyote (general biology, food habits, reproduction, behavior and activity)
See Appendix 1 for information provided by the New Castle Environmental
Conservation Committee.
Coyote/Human Conflicts
In general, it is unlikely that coyotes will approach humans or become aggressive
towards people directly; however, where aggressive behavior occurs is often involving
people’s cats and dogs. Coyotes are naturally attracted to pets, and coyotes that
approach pets, pose an immediate risk to the safety of pets. This scenario, also creates
the potential for harm to people’s safety. Coyote attacks on people however, are
extremely rare.
Coyotes have adapted well to New Castle’s environment and have been successful in
denning and raising pups in close proximity to residences and public spaces, despite
the presence of people, their pets and extensive road networks. This success
demonstrates the coyote’s adaptability and ability to co-exist with humans. As coyotes
become more acclimated to living adjacent to people’s residences, there is a higher
potential for coyotes to lose their fear of people, increasing the possibility of
coyote/human conflicts .
It is our job as a Town government to raise awareness of this phenomenon and work
with the community to maintain the natural fear that coyotes have of humans.
Habituation of Coyotes towards Humans
Coyotes are very adaptable and have come to accept humans as part of the suburban
environment that they live in. The more comfortable coyotes become of people through
repeated contact, the more potential exists for aggressive behavior of coyotes towards
humans. One of the primary causes of habituation is the intentional and in some cases
unintentional feeding of coyotes. The majority of cases nationwide of reported
aggressive behavior of coyotes is attributed to feeding and/or individual coyotes that are
sick or diseased. When a coyote becomes aggressive, it is often necessary to remove
the problem individual.
New York State Laws regarding Coyotes
In New York State, coyotes are protected as a furbearing mammal. The New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation oversees coyotes in suburban areas.
In Westchester County the trapping season for coyotes is regulated by the NYDEC. The
NYDEC is also the agency that issues the required trapping licenses. NYDEC may also
issue a Nuisance Wildlife Permit for trapping out of season if a coyote is threatening
public safety, deemed to be a nuisance or is damaging property. Persons interested in
obtaining a trapping permit or a Nuisance Wildlife Permit should contact the New York
State Department of Environmental Conservation through their web site at or call 1-866-933-2257.
The Town’s Role in Managing Coyote/Human Conflicts
In order to successfully co-exist, there is a need for residents to understand coyote
behavior and be aware of tools and techniques that can help make coyotes maintain a
healthy fear of people and their property. A coyote is a wild animal and needs to be
treated as such. Coyotes should not be considered a welcome guest in people’s yards.
Monitoring Of Coyotes and Collecting Data on Incidents
In order to assist with the management of potential coyote/human interactions, the
Town of New Castle Police Department’s Animal Control Warden (ACW) will track
coyote incidents, not routine sightings. An interactive map will be made available as a
link on the Town’s website to allow residents to review information on coyote incidents
and to add and review citizen self-reports of coyote sightings. The purpose of the
interactive map is to provide residents the opportunity to contribute data to help our
overall understanding of coyote issues throughout the Town.
Public Education Efforts
A key component to help people co-exist with coyotes is for residents to be aware of the
presence of coyotes in New Castle and to be pro-active keeping coyotes from becoming
too comfortable around their property.
The ACW/NCPD will provide information and educational materials to inform residents
about New York State Law regarding the coyote trapping season and their option of
obtaining a Nuisance Wildlife permit out of season under certain circumstances.
The ACW/NCPD will also provide educational information and resources to keep
residents informed and aware of strategies to safely co-exist with coyotes. This will
include information on methods to harass coyotes, typically referred to as hazing. When
done properly hazing should cause a coyote to leave the area. When done consistently
hazing may help keep coyotes from becoming too comfortable around people and
Educational material will include information to help residents eliminate potential
attractants on their property to minimize conflicts with coyotes and other wildlife. See
Appendix 2 for a list of Yard Maintenance Tips for Keeping Coyotes Away provided by
the New Castle Environmental Conservation Committee.
Town of New Castle Coyote Management Response Plan
A table has been developed that provides decision making guidelines for the handling of
coyote incidents.
The New Castle Police Department (NCPD) will receive all reports of coyote incidents
(not sightings) and determine appropriate response. When appropriate the NCPD will
refer incidents to the Animal Control Warden or in his/her absence the Environmental
Coordinator (EC) who will assist with incident and assessment and follow up as needed.
Coyote Incident Classification and Recommended Responses
Coyote Behavior
Non-Aggressive Behaviors
Coyote heard or seen moving
through area (day or night)
No police report.
Coyote seen resting in area or
entering a yard with no person
present outside. No police
Classification Response
If requested, ACW will provide approved education
materials and information on normal coyote
behavior. Citizen may document on interactive map
as a sighting
If requested, ACW will provide approved education
materials and information on normal coyote
behavior, provide hazing information to encourage
people to get animal to leave, provide information
regarding NY Trapping laws, Citizen may document
Coyote following or
approaching a person with or
without pets and no incident.
Police report recommended.
Coyote entering yard with
people and pets present.
Police report recommended.
Aggressive Behaviors
Coyote injures or kills
unattended or unleashed pet
in back yard or open area.
File a police report.
on interactive map
Police report should be filed. Responding
Officer/ACW will provide information on pet safety,
hazing techniques and NY trapping laws, ACW will
monitor frequency. Citizen may document on
interactive map
Police report should be filed. Responding
Officer/ACW will provide information on pet safety,
hazing techniques and NY trapping laws. Refer to
ACW for follow-up and monitor frequency. Citizen
may document on interactive map
Unattended Pet
File a police report. Responding Officer/ACW will
provide educational resources on pet management,
hazing techniques and the applicability of NY State
trapping laws. Desk Officer/Responding Officer
should advise pet owner to wear protection when
handling the victim dog and to seek medical advice if
he or she may have come in contact with the
coyote’s saliva. When appropriate send a targeted
NIXLE alert, ACW/NCPD will add to interactive map,
Refer to ACW for follow-up.
Coyote injures or kills pet offAttended Pet
Police should be immediately notified and may take
leash with human nearby, dog Attack
steps to remove coyote. If the coyote has left the
attacking coyote, or kills pet
area provide information on applicable NY trapping
on-leash. File a police report
laws, educational resources on pet management and
hazing techniques ACW/NCPD will add to map,
when appropriate send a targeted NIXLE alert.
Follow-up by ACW.
Coyote bites human (human
Police should be immediately notified, attack victim
feeding coyote, approaching
Human Attack
to seek advice of physician or EMS response, if
animal with pups, intervening
possible lethal action used to take possession of
during pet attack) Notify
coyote, If killed, submit to DOH for testing. If coyote
not present, a trapper should be contacted asap to
Police Immediately
take possession of the problem animal. Animal if
caught to be euthanized and delivered to DOH for
testing. Incident posted to Nixle and social media.
ACW/NCPD add to map. Follow-up by ACW.
Coyote bites human (human
Police should be immediately notified, EMS
did not encourage coyote to
response or attack victim to seek advice of
engage) Notify Police
physician, lethal action may be taken, If killed, submit
coyote to DOH for testing. If coyote not present, a
trapper will be contacted asap to remove the
problem animal. If caught animal will be euthanized
and delivered to DOH for testing. Incident posted to
Nixle and social media. ACW/NCPD add to map.
ACW will follow up.
*The police are authorized to use lethal action against wildlife when deemed necessary to
protect life and/or property
The Eastern Coyote (general biology, food habits, reproduction, behavior and activity)
The eastern coyote (Canis latrans), is common throughout the northeast and have been
present in New York State since the 1930’s. Coyotes have continued to expand their
range to now include most suburban and rural areas. Coyotes are part of the dog family
that includes wolves and foxes. They often look similar to German shepherd dogs, yet
much smaller in size. Adults weigh on average between 35 to 45 pounds. They have
prominent yellow eyes and thick long fur (the thick long fur, often make them look larger
than actual size). Their tails are bushy and often pointing down (a distinguishing feature
from fox, whom hold their tail upright). Coyote fur color is variable – from reddishblonde to dark tan streaked with black and gray. Most coyotes have a white chin and a
prominent dark spot just below the base of the tail when observed from behind.
Coyotes often mate for life, are devoted parents and highly communicative. Coyotes
form family units, and maintain specific territories. The dominant female is the only one
that usually breeds. Breeding takes place in February and March with pups born in
April and May. The average litter size is 5-7 pups. Dens are usually located in steep
banks, rock crevices, under brush piles, under downed trees, and may include
underneath buildings such as sheds. Den sites are selected that are concealed and
provide protection for the litter. The den will be active for 5-7 weeks before it is
abandoned, but it is not unusual for coyotes to change den locations multiple times to
protect their young. Both parents are involved in hunting to feed their young. During
the summer months it is common to see family groups moving through areas. Pups
mature around 9 months and are forced to disperse and leave the parents’ home range.
Dispersal occurs usually by late October. Young mature pups will disperse and travel
extensively to find vacant territory and a potential mate. Research indicates that few
coyotes survive for more than 10-12 years in the wild and only 3 years in urban areas.
Human activity is the greatest single cause of mortality.
A coyotes diet is quite varied and depends upon what is available that is easy to find,
scavenge, catch and kill. Their diet includes white-tailed deer, rabbits, small mammals
such as mice, raccoons, groundhogs, birds, insects and plant materials. Their diet will
shift based upon what is available seasonally. During summer months, coyotes will
feed extensively on berries and insects; in the fall their diet relies more heavily on small
mammals; by winter they rely more on white-tailed deer. Deer killed by vehicles and
other causes is an important food source for coyotes. Coyotes, like most wildlife
species are opportunistic and have been known to also take small pets.
Coyotes are most active at night, and early morning hours, but can also be observed
during the day. Observing a coyote during the day is not that unusual within the Town
as coyotes have adapted to living in residential neighborhoods. Coyotes are very vocal
at night and it can often seem like more coyotes are present than is actually there. A
coyote’s natural behavior is to be wary of people, but they are known to be extremely
adaptable, and can habituate to human presence, especially in areas where people
provide a reliable source of food, or other attractive elements as part of their habitat,
such as possible denning sites.
A family unit (two adults and their pups) typical territory is often several square miles.
Studies have shown that individual family units may defend territories between 2 to 15
square miles in size against other coyote families. Research studies conducted by
Cornell University have found that in suburban landscapes, coyote pairs inhabited
natural areas at a density of 4.5 breeding pairs per 10 square miles. Home ranges
averaged 2.2 square miles and were located primarily in natural forested habitats. The
Town of New Castle consists of 24 square miles, and based upon the average size of
territories, the number of family units that could be sustained throughout the Town is
Coyotes have readily adapted to living within the Town of New Castle. The Town
includes several well established residential neighborhoods, parks and open spaces
that provide abundant food, water and shelter. Suburban areas often provide ideal
habitat for coyotes. An abundance of natural food sources are present, which includes
rabbits, rodents, birds, and in many cases can include small cats and dogs. Coyotes if
necessary may also feed on household garbage, pet food and plant materials from
people’s gardens and landscaped areas.
The availability of food resources plays a significant role in regulating coyote numbers.
If there are abundant food resources present, the required size of the territory needs to
be much less to be able to support a family unit.
Increases in Coyote Observations
The attractiveness of suburban areas like the Town of New Castle, has increased the
awareness of the presence of coyotes and sightings of coyotes seen throughout the
town has become more frequent. Because coyotes are very mobile and cover a wide
area (average of 2.2 square miles) to defend their territory, sightings of coyotes may be
of the same individual as it moves through its territory. Often, observations in multiple
areas contribute to the perception that there are large numbers of coyotes within the
Town. It is very difficult to determine actual population estimates without detailed
surveys by qualified experts. Coyotes, like most wild animals, are able to co-exist within
suburban areas and in general still avoid frequent interaction and conflicts with people.
Suggested Annual Homeowner’s Yard Audit to discourage coyotes:
Maintenance/Mitigation Measures
Food Sources
Never intentionally feed a coyote
Pet Food
Water Sources
Bird Feeders
Feed pets indoors, store all pet food securely indoors
Remove water attractants, such as pet water bowls
Use no-spill bird feeders. Clean up fallen seed to
reduce the attractiveness to small mammals that
coyotes prefer to eat
Clean up fallen fruit around fruit trees to eliminate food
Fallen Fruit from fruit trees
BBQ Grills
Enclose compost piles especially if using meat and
dairy products as part of composting
Clean up any spilled food around BBQ grills after each
Secure all outdoor trash containers with locking lids
and clean containers periodically to reduce odors and
Regularly trim vegetation around the perimeter of
property to reduce hiding spaces and potential
denning areas
Restrict access under decks and sheds, and around
wood piles that can provide cover or shelter for both
coyotes and their prey
Enclose property with a 6 ft. perimeter fence and make
sure fence in contact with ground. To prevent digging
under the fence, fence should be buried 6 inches into
ground to deter digging underneath
Never leave pets unattended outside, never allow pets
to approach coyotes, enclose outdoor pet kennels and
dog runs, walk pets on a leash no longer than 6 feet in