The Humane Society of the United States last week trumpeted news that the village of Riverside had adopted its new coyote management plan — the first municipality in the nation to do so.
While it’s true that Riverside is the first village whose coyote management principles align with the Humane Society’s, Riverside actually adopted that humane policy back in February 2013.
However, the Humane Society would like other municipalities to adopt its new policy, which was based in part on Riverside’s, and having the village’s police chief as an advocate will be helpful.
“They’ve had a lot of resistance from law enforcement about humane management,” said Police Chief Thomas Weitzel, who noted that in rural areas, particularly in western states, the solution is to kill the animals. “We were the only agency willing to work with them to get law enforcement involved.”
Weitzel said that the village was happy to support the Humane Society’s model policy, adding that he hoped Riverside’s support might help sway other police departments to do the same.
“Often police agencies only listen if other police agencies are supporting it,” Weitzel said.
The Humane Society’s policy is meant as a model that municipalities can adopt without having to craft their own individual policies. It includes many of the features seen in the Riverside policy, including an emphasis on discouraging coyotes through “hazing,” which involves everything from shouting and waving arms at the animals to blowing air horns to throwing small projectiles at them.
Weitzel said that while both Riverside’s and the Humane Society’s policy do not advocate shooting coyotes as a means of controlling their population, he did say that both policies authorize lethal measures if coyotes are directly “threatening humans or attacking a human being.”
The Riverside village board in December 2013 voted against a recommendation to hire a sharpshooter to cull coyotes. Last year, there were more than 230 reported coyote sightings in Riverside.
In 2014, there have been fewer than 40 coyote sightings reported in Riverside, according to Weitzel. He said he wasn’t sure what exactly accounted for the large drop. Perhaps there are simply fewer coyotes this year or residents may have simply resigned themselves to their presence.
“I don’t know if it’s a production of our educational efforts or less coyotes,” Weitzel said. “We can speak up that this is an accurate program and that it does work.”
Weitzel said he will be briefing the village board on the alignment with the Humane Society on its coyote policy in November.