Aggressive coyotes have gotten so bad in one Rhode Island town that it's hiring a coyote hunter.
In the past year in Middletown, coyotes have killed pets, gone onto decks and looked in people's windows, police Chief Anthony Pesare said Wednesday. Most recently, a coyote jumped over a 4-foot fence to attack a dog.
"People are concerned. They're afraid to go outside. They're afraid to go for walks," he said. "They feel trapped in their own houses."
Pesare would not say who the town had hired, but said he is from Rhode Island and has "a great deal of experience hunting coyotes."
With the help of a Jamestown-based nonprofit group, The Conservation Agency, the town during the past few years has instituted several "best practices" to manage the coyote population, including educating people not to feed coyotes and teaching them how to scare away the animals. Pesare said people bear most of the blame because coyotes have gotten used to being fed by humans or eating food that is left out and have lost their fear of people.
But he said some of the coyotes have become so aggressive that officials have no choice but to target the worst animals.
He hopes the hunter will start April 5, the day after a planned town council hearing to approve a zoning change to allow the hunt. The proposal was first reported by The Newport Daily News.
As for the hunter's pay, there won't be any, Pesare said. He said the man sees it as a public service and asks only to be reimbursed for his expenses _ including gas and ammunition.