Troy, Michigan, has issues with coyotes, while in Yuma, Arizona, it’s feral cats.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Michigan 10/28/10 by Terry Oparka – Troy – There is little doubt in Troy Police Lt. Bob Redmond’s mind that the reports of gunshots fired near Raintree Park, near Wattles and John R, after dark Oct. 12 were attempts to kill or scare the coyotes who have been seen in that area.  “They were clearly shooting at coyotes,” Redmond said. “That is clearly more dangerous than the coyotes themselves.”

Redmond said that there has never been an incident of a coyote attacking a child.   “They (coyotes) are deathly afraid of people unless you coax them to come to you,” Redmond said. “You scare them off by screaming.”  If a resident were to encounter a coyote, he said, it’s best to continue to make noise and wave your arms until the coyote moves out of view. 

That’s just what Patricia Blaszczak did when she saw her dog Sunshine, an 8-pound Maltese, in the mouth of a coyote in her backyard near Raintree Park Oct. 3. She then rushed her dog to the vet. Sunshine got 11 stitches and is recovering at home, while animal control officers continue check in on her for the required 45 days to make sure she didn’t contract rabies from the coyote. Blaszczak said the dog is doing fine.  Redmond explained that Blaszczak’s dog was up to date on rabies vaccines, which allowed the dog to be monitored for rabies at home. He said that rabies and distemper are concerns, although there hasn’t been a case of rabies reported in Troy for the past eight years.

Troy police have received two reports of coyote attacks on dogs — Blaszczak’s dog and one of a resident on Orpington, in the Big Beaver and John R area.  Len Marhoff, who lives in the Wattles and Dequindre area, said his cat Bean was killed by a coyote in September.  And Jake Doyle, 9, and his brothers Payton, 9, and Ian, 8, snapped a photo of three coyotes they spotted in a backyard on Fernleigh, which backs up to their backyard on Euclid, in the Wattles and Dequindre area, at 9 a.m. Oct. 16. 

“We’ve had a whole lot of coyote sightings, mostly in the early morning and evening. They usually are most active in the dark,” Redmond said. He noted that coyotes generally live lives unseen, do not have contact with humans and that relocating the animals doesn’t work.   “They’re wild dogs after food,” he said. “They don’t want to be pet or played with. People taking matters into their own hands will lead to disaster.” 

Redmond said that residents who have questions or concerns about sightings or encounters with wildlife should call police at (248) 524-3477.

Arizona 10/27/10  by Joyce Lobeck – Cat owners in the city of Yuma will have to license their pets and feeding cats outdoors will be prohibited if a proposed ordinance presented to the Yuma City Council during a retreat this week becomes law. The proposed changes in the city’s animal control measures are an effort by the city to address feral cats, a subject that over the years has come up often with passionate pleas to the council to do something.  “The animal control ordinance is the first step in trying to get a problem under control that has been out there a long time,” said City Administrator Greg Wilkinson. He added that he expects the ordinance to come before the council in the near future for adoption.

(It) starts with the recommendation that cats need to be licensed, something various residents have suggested.  That means cat owners would have to show proof their pet is vaccinated for rabies and purchase a license and tags to be worn by the cat.  “That puts cats and dogs on equal footing,” Wilkinson said. “I think it’s very fair. Owners should share equally in the cost of animal control. It’s standard around the country.”

The recommendation was put together with the advice of various animal rights groups, he said.  “A responsible pet owner shouldn’t have an issue with it,” Wilkinson said. “It’s just responsible to have your pet vaccinated and licensed.”  And hopefully, the requirement will encourage people to keep their pet cats to a minimum, he said.

Banning feeding of stray cats outdoors is the other important component of the proposed effort, Wilkinson noted.  “If they’re fed, they breed and there’s more kittens.”  An exception would be if someone feeds a starving animal, then traps it to take to the Humane Society.  Animals being raised for 4-H and FFA projects would be exempt.

It also would become unlawful to release a cat in the city, such as abandoning an unwanted pet or litter of kittens, Wilkinson said. That measure would not apply to licensed groups that spay or neuter the cats, then release them back to the colony, an effort that animal control officials believe is the best answer to the feral cat problem.  Also being considered by the city is a stepped-up live trapping program.

In the past, the public was turning hundreds of trapped cats each month in to the Humane Society of Yuma to be euthanized.  On Jan. 1, 2009, the agency began charging $20 per cat.  It was a difficult decision, HSOY Executive Director Shawn Smith said at the time, But it was taken because of the cost to the agency of euthanizing so many animals as well as the emotional toll it was taking on HSOY staff. He also noted that trapping and killing the cats hadn’t been making a difference in the feral cat population.

Since the fee was adopted, the number of trapped cats turned in to HSOY has dropped significantly.  Wilkinson said one consideration is a push in January and February for the trapping of feral cats before the prime spring breeding season.  “Perhaps we could waive or reduce the cost to turn them in,” he said. “If we take them off the street before they breed, we believe that could have a big impact.”


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