City Council Meeting October 9, 2007 – Coyotes!

Littleton City Council Special Meeting

9 October 2007

 Qwest is negotiating with the City to bring their cable services to Littleton.  The first part of the meeting was spent listening to their presentation and the Q&A between the council and Qwest.  If a contract with Qwest is agreed upon Qwest would be in direct competition with Comcast for phone, internet and cable services.  If Littleton is the first municipality to sign with Qwest there could be some “perks” negotiated into the agreement just because we would be the first and Qwest is motivated to get started. Stay tuned. 

Coyotes in Littleton 

Jim Woods began the discussion with an overview of the situation.  In the October issue of the Littleton Report there was a background piece on coyote behavior.  Coyotes are overcoming their fear of humans and becoming more aggressive.  Greenwood Village has done some educating on the coyotes but they have also brought in trappers who were successful in trapping some dogs.  (Wasn’t clear to me if they trapped some coyotes along with the dogs or not.) Trapping means destroying – to trap and relocate is next to impossible.  There have been a couple of coyotes shot in Greenwood Village. 

Greenwood Village has asked other cities if they are interested in contracting with the USDA in an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to educate the citizens on coyotes and trapping the coyotes if it is determined that the population is getting out of hand.  Contracting with the USDA would mean a full-time biologist and a support vehicle at $96,000 per year.

Woods expressed concern about Centennial participating as they are in a “transition” phase – they intend to terminate their association with Arapahoe County public works.  There have been some coyote reports in Centennial but no reports on pet attacks.

Dave Lorenz, from South Suburban, said they have received very few reports but it is a topic of discussion for their board.

The parks and recreation people push for co-existence with the coyotes but this doesn’t diminish the painful circumstances of losing pets to coyotes.

Rebecca Kast thinks the signage on Lee’s Gulch should be refurbished as it has fallen down or been defaced with graffiti.  That would help in getting people aware of the coyotes.

Doug Clark was not sure signs on the trails would get people aware – a lot of people don’t walk on the trails.

Chief Coogan said, although they have not mapped the coyote sightings, she believes most of them are seen close to the trails.

Clark said he had read an email about a dog being taken from a leash by a coyote but he has yet to hear that report first hand.  If that actually happened then we are at a point that I’m concerned, Clark said.  If coyotes are jumping fences he agrees with Kast that citizens should be informed that fences will not protect them from the coyotes.  Clark thought they should identify areas that are more likely to have coyotes and mail post cards to those addresses letting them know how best to live with the coyotes.

Phil Cortese said the council would be having breakfast with the HOAs and that would be one way to distribute the information.

Woods said everyone is trying to preserve open space and protecting the habitat and we have made a nice freeway for the coyotes to come into suburbia.

Jim Taylor thought the council needed more information before they can agree to an IGA to hire the USDA.

Bruce Stahlman wants some feedback on what will happen if they agree to hire the USDA and Woods told him that they are in new territory and they don’t know where they are going.  A wildlife biologist can take inventories of wildlife.

Taylor said it would be important to see if the coyote population is growing by leaps and bounds. 

Woods suggested that they start with data collection to establish a baseline of information.

Kast said the city does not have anyone in the budget to do that.

John Ostermiller suggested they get the Arapahoe County Mayors and City Managers involved and look at the problem regionally.

Clark thought South Suburban should also be involved since it’s their property.

Amy Conklin said it is routine stuff and would not take a full-time person.

Woods would like to take a pulse of other cities to see if there is an interest in a cooperative effort for collecting data.

Clark wants to know how many calls to public safety there are involving coyotes and how many pets are being killed.

Kast said people should not put their garbage out the night before – it happens all the time – we are feeding them.

Clark said we may need to require animal proof garbage cans.

Woods said the issue is not going away and they need to get a handle on it.  Human attack is very unlikely.  However, there was a mountain lion on the light rail track a year ago.  We have made a trail system that reaches the foothills and it makes it easier for wildlife to find there way to us.

Taylor said it is the penalty we pay for the quality of life we asked for.

Ostermiller thought they should have school send out letters informing parents of the coyotes.

 Note:  We have had a couple of cats and a Jack Russell taken by the coyotes in our neighborhood. (North side of Lee’s Gulch)  The owner of the Jack Russell has since moved but returned to visit her dad who lives around the corner which is about 2 blocks from the trail.  She had her new dog in her dad’s fenced-in back yard and saw a coyote take her dog in his mouth.  She ran out and was able to scare the coyote enough that it dropped her dog which was mangled. I don’t believe she called the police after either incident.  I don’t think people are inclined to call the police when something like that happens.  After all, what can they do?     

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