Mapping habitat and educating residents are key to reducing confrontations between animals and people
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A series of complaints about coyotes in a couple of Breckenridge neighborhoods has prompted the town to push ahead with an overall wildlife management policy aimed at educating residents and adopting best management practices for reducing confrontations between animals and people — like not feeding wild animals and keeping garbage secured properly.
“We finalized the concept through the sustainability committee. We’re gathering information from other areas and working with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program,” said Heide Andersen, the town’s open space and trails director.
The coyote reports starting in September, as kids were heading back to school. According to a memo from police commander Shannon Haynes, there no complaints about the animals approaching in an aggressive manner, but some residents nevertheless were nervous about a potential attack.
Community service officers responded by patrolling the areas and renewing their efforts to warn residents about the potential dangers of feeding wild animals. According to the memo, some people said they wanted to feed the foxes, but not the coyotes.
The memo from Haynes goes on to detail communications with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Summit County Animal Control, showing that there has been no increase in coyote incidents over previous years. In the past five years, there have been eight reported coyote attacks against humans, including a 2004 incident at Copper involving a coyote that had previously been fed by humans.
Andersen said the planning effort is based on identifying wildlife habitat in the town, and making management recommendations based on that information. The town council could use the data to make ordinances to reflect the management direction and inform development decisions.
With regard to coyotes, Andersen said there are some municipalities that have tried eradication.
“That doesn’t seem to work,” she said.
Haynes detailed some of those efforts in her memo:
“For example, in 2007, after repeated human/coyote encounters, Greenwood Village instituted a policy of trapping. The City was issued a permit to trap by the Tri-County Health Department. However, in 2009, under pressure from animal rights and activist groups the Tri-County Health Department revoked existing permits and refused to issue new permits. During that same year a boy was charged by a coyote near a local park and the community demanded action. In response, Greenwood Village developed a comprehensive coyote management policy that included education, enforcement of laws, encouragement and instruction for hazing and lethal action for dangerous animals. Similar plans have been adopted by other communities including Longmont and Centennial.
“In Broomfield, the prevalence of menacing coyotes prompted the city to hire sharpshooters to kill a pack living in Broomfield County Commons (Davidson, 2009). Most attempts to eradicate invasive coyotes have proved unsuccessful and Broomfield is no exception. After the pack was killed, fewer menacing coyotes and coyote attacks were reporting; however pets continue to be killed (Davidson, 2009). DOW personnel have theorized that coyotes “have become bolder as they’ve adapted to the suburban environment” (Davidson, 2009). So, while eradicating particularly aggressive coyotes may still be an option, the City of Broomfield has set out to educate the community.”
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Summit County Colorado, wildlife Tagged: | Breckenridge, Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Natural Heritate Program, coyotes, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, wildlife