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Coyote problem in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Posted at 10:53 AM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 18:52:35-05

Forest Lawn Cemetery, through its FACEBOOK page, is notifying the public that it is taking steps to deal with a coyote problem.

According to the post, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) was immediately contacted.  The DEC determined that the best course of action was to remove the coyote(s) from the grounds of Forest Lawn.

The DEC issued a permit allowing an experienced trapper to be hired - who planned on using "swivel leg hold" traps which are considered more humane than "claw" traps.  Swivel leg hold traps do not harm the coyote but keep it in place until the trapper arrives.  Once they are caught in a leg hold trap, a licensed, professional tapper was going to humanely euthanize the animal(s).

A viewer sent 7 Eyewitness News pictures of the traps. 

The following is a statement issued by NYSDEC:

"The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) works with all concerned property owners and managers to address wildlife management issues, including nuisance coyotes. DEC issued a permit to take coyote to Forest Lawn Cemetery after two separate incidents of coyotes chasing people in the span of a week. These incidents demonstrated that the coyote is exhibiting aggressive behavior and likely habituated to humans. While most coyotes avoid interacting with people, some coyotes may become emboldened and lose their fear of people, which can result in a dangerous situation."

The following is part of Forest Lawn's statement that was posted on FACEBOOK.

"Our primary concerns are for the safety of our visitors and balance of nature within our gates. Unfortunately, these new predators, if not removed, will significantly and permanently disrupt the ecosystem that so many people have come to value on these sacred acres. 

We trust that the community will understand and respect this difficult decision, made to protect and preserve the delicate ecosystem of Forest Lawn."

However . . . the plans to use the traps caused such an uproar on social media that Forest Lawn agreed to a request by the SPCA Serving Erie County to consider using other humane management techniques to control the coyotes.

Among those ideas are using lights and devices that will make noises to scare the animals away.

A big part of the problem is Forest Lawn Cemetery has a thriving ecosystem which attracts animals, like deer, that coyotes view as food.

7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly takes a closer look at problem coyotes and speaks with Gina Browning from the SPCA about the issue.

Forest Lawn is a popular spot for walkers.  Animal experts say there is no reason for people to stop walking in the cemetery, but they they do advise using caution during the dawn, dusk and nightime hours.

In general, coyotes are afraid of human beings - especially if you act large and make loud noises.

NYSDEC provided more information about confronting coyotes:

"The Eastern coyote is firmly established in New York, including urban and suburban areas. People and coyotes can usually coexist if the natural fear of people that coyotes have is maintained. Coyotes do well exploiting the green spaces in areas with human development, accessing both natural food sources and human-created food sources (e.g., trash, compost). To minimize the potential for conflicts, people should remove food sources by securing trash, feeding pets indoors, and cleaning up bird feeders. There are more tips on our website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6971.html[dec.ny.gov].

"In most circumstances, just observing a coyote or other wildlife should be a positive experience. Coyotes in suburban areas tend to be more tolerant of people than coyotes in rural areas due to living in close proximity to human development. Despite this increased tolerance of people, they should still be wary of people. It is a loss of wariness that could be a cause of concern.  If people see a coyote, be aggressive - stand tall and hold arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, they should make loud noises, wave their arms, throw sticks and stones. Do not allow coyotes to approach people or pets. When coyotes routinely linger around homes (rather than passing through), when they do not flee when a person acts aggressively, or when they approach people and pets, then the person should contact their local police department and the regional DEC Wildlife Office "- http://www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html[dec.ny.gov].