Baiting coyotes should be illegal

To the Editor:

Did you know that it is legal in the state of Massachusetts to draw coyotes into your neighborhood by baiting them? Did you know that it is also legal to bait them to your home and then shoot them from out your window with a valid hunting license?

I recently found out that a radio collared eastern coyote was lured to a home with bait (various meats). This coyote was lured to this home during the evening, when it began to eat from the bait pile. It was killed by a gun from approximately 150 feet from this home. It was found on top of the bait pile the next day. No one had taken the coyote for its pelt or tagged it.

I find this practice alarming! Is this happening in your neighborhood to coyotes that are not radio collared? Are you finding bait piles near your home or in other areas of your neighborhood? Do you see bait piles off conservation trails you live near? Does it seem like there is an increase in the number of eastern coyotes you normally see in your neighborhood? Are you hearing more shooting at night? Is it happening close to your home?

I thought that the first rule I ever heard and read when it comes to avoiding human and coyote conflict, coming from a state biologist was “NEVER feed a coyote.”  Baiting is feeding a coyote!

I have learned that feeding coyotes brings them closer to us.  This is a dangerous practice as it brings them closer to our pets and our children.

I am the mother of a small child, close to the age of the 9-year-old girl who was attacked by a coyote in Haverhill, Massachusetts. I have learned that feeding coyotes brings them closer to us.  This is a dangerous practice as it brings them closer to our pets and our children. Why would we want to cause these kinds of conflicts with wildlife if we can avoid them? When coyotes are left to hunt for their wild prey, conflicts with humans are seldom.

During the day, my daughter and I have noticed an increase in coyotes traveling up our dirt road to access another neighborhood, which runs parallel to some woods. There are many homes very close to this small wooded area. We have noticed many shots fired during the evening. We still hear howling, but the shots silence that. I have since become extremely concerned after learning about the legalities involving baiting at home and shooting on one’s property. We have walked those woods in the fall and found piles of fish and bones in the woods not 500 feet from homes bordering them. This makes me very weary.

We should all remember 9-year-old girl who was bitten in the arm by a coyote in Haverhill, Mass. She must be traumatized. She is undergoing treatments, including treatments for rabies.  When Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife visited her yard to see the scene of the attack, they found food everywhere. There were birdfeeders that not only had birdseed, but were drawing rodents and other small mammals, the coyote’s favorite foods. The biologists went on to find apples scattered on the ground in the yard as well as a neighbor who kept chickens in an unsecured pen.

The biologist said that coyotes do NOT distinguish between who gives them food and why. The biologist’s advice regarding keeping coyotes out of the neighborhood and the recent conflict: “Shut down the food and they will go somewhere else.”

So, I ask you, if the biologist recommends not feeding coyotes, why is it legal to bait them into our neighborhoods throughout Massachusetts? I, for one, as a Mother and a pet owner, want to see baiting of coyotes made illegal! I encourage all parents, pet owners, and concerned citizens to contact their legislators to help change this law. I also think we should ask our towns to help us become more educated on ways to keep coyotes in the wild.

Spring is coming, and with it, coyotes will be bringing pups into the world. This means that coyote parents will be hunting to feed their pups. In addition, spring is a time for our children and pets to start playing outside and enjoying the warmer weather. So, NOW is the time to change this law!

Keep coyotes wild and out of the neighborhood. Make baiting illegal now!

Rebecca Ayres Mullin
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