HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — As coyotes encroach more upon developed land, trappers who field requests for help from distressed homeowners are asking Connecticut officials to ease limits on permits needed to catch the animals.
Encounters have been on the rise in areas statewide including Stamford where, within the last month, a 12-year-old girl said a coyote stalked her on her walk home from a school bus and an elementary school kept children indoors because of coyote sightings.
Tom Logan, a Stamford-based urban wildlife specialist, said he receives several calls a week about coyotes, but the state approves few of the requests to trap and kill the animals. Logan, vice president of the Connecticut Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators Association, said he and other trappers have been asking the state to make it easier to obtain the permits.
"It's a long process to get them to do anything," Logan said. "It seems every year there are more and more people that want to do something about coyotes, maybe they have small pets or kids."
The number of state-issued permits to trap coyotes has been rising and now averages between six and 12 annually, said Chris Vann, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. He said complaints have been relatively stable in recent years as coyotes have moved into developed areas, with increased reports of the animals breeding in urban areas.
"There is a never-ending demand for space," Vann said. "Coyotes are looking to find space where they can survive."
The coyotes have been known to attack pets and livestock, and officials want to hear about animals that are aggressive or sick-looking, but generally they are not considered a threat to people.
The state weighs trapping permit requests carefully, Vann said. Coyotes are regulated as a species for the value of their fur, and they are considered a game animal. The law requires land owners to demonstrate a threat to public health or safety, and Vann said some requests are denied for lack of evidence.
For now, Vann said, the environmental agency is not proposing any regulation changes. But he said it recognizes concerns about coyote encounters and may consider modifications in the future.
A permit requires hiring of a licensed trapper. Logan, the owner of the Wild Things wildlife control company, uses a foothold trap with rubber pads on the jaws that close on the animal's ankle.
Tilford Cobb, Stamford's animal control manager, said many residents have been calling with concerns about coyotes, but people should know they don't really pose a threat.
"If you do see them, just scare them away," he said. "Otherwise they get accustomed to being around us."