Schenectady County

Neighborhood coyotes in Troy a threat to pets but not trick-or-treaters

Reports of missing cats and coyotes prowling north Troy are prompting authorities to advise resident

Reports of missing cats and coyotes prowling north Troy are prompting authorities to advise residents to keep small pets indoors.

The city’s animal control officer has spotted a pair of healthy coyotes meandering along New Turnpike Road but efforts to approach them have been unsuccessful so far, Troy Police Capt. John Cooney said Friday.

The wild canines aren’t considered a direct threat to people and they aren’t expected to impact trick-or-treating on Halloween.

A state environmental conservation officer has been providing technical advice to the city and an effort to trap the coyotes is being organized, according to a DEC spokesman.

But work to trap the coyotes will come too late for three cats that wildlife rehabilitator Denise Ziter believes the coyotes had for dinner.

Ziter owns a 4.5-acre bird sanctuary where dozens of species of songbirds live. They’re fed with roughly 20 bird feeders positioned throughout the property, she said Friday.

She said she had two feral cats living on her property, which is right on New Turnpike Road, and another rescued cat she’d taken inside.

All were spayed or neutered, she said, and she kept food outside to feed the two feral cats.

All three disappeared over the past two weeks, and Ziter said she learned about the coyotes when she called authorities.

“We were very perplexed as to what happened to them. I called Troy and that’s when I learned there were some [coyote] sightings,” she said.

Cooney said he’s learning the coyotes may be more difficult to capture than first thought.

He said the city gathered a deer carcass found on Oakwood Avenue and brought it closer to a site off of New Turnpike Avenue in an effort to draw coyotes closer.

“We think that they were actually close enough to be attracted to the kill, but aware enough that we were watching it closely,” Cooney said.

He said he’s seen the two coyotes together, usually at dusk, and they appear healthy.

“They’re pretty neat to watch, but not if we’re losing pets. That’s not good,” he said.

DEC Region 4 spokesman Rick Georgeson said officials are eyeing some private property in the neighborhood where the coyotes may be living.

The DEC also advised Troy officials to either cover up the deer carcass or get rid of it because carcasses will attract more coyotes, he said.

The coyotes also could be visiting the city to avoid hunters in the woods, Georgeson said.

Hunting season for coyotes opened Oct. 1 and runs through March 25, he said; the trapping season began Oct. 25.

“They’re smart. They know to go where they’re not being shot at,” Georgeson said.

If successfully trapped, the coyotes will likely be killed, he said. But that won’t necessarily solve the issue. If there’s still available food, more coyotes will take their place, he said.

The DEC offers several steps people can take to avoid conflicts with coyotes in a document titled “Coyote Conflicts” on the DEC website. Small pets should not be allowed to run free and they should not be fed outside. Owners of medium and large-sized dogs don’t have to worry, but cats are a favored food for some coyotes.

“Coyotes in some areas appear to become ‘specialists’ at catching and killing cats,” the document states.

The DEC suggests removing tall grass or brush from a property to eliminate protective cover for coyotes, and making sure there’s no garbage available for them to eat.

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