A number of troublemakers have gotten residents of the Front Range upset, and some of them are looking to state and local governments to protect them.
In response, many government officials are telling residents they must take measures to protect themselves. And their advice is reasonable, even for those of us far removed from the Front Range problems.
The troublemakers in question are coyotes. Confrontations between the wily canines and humans or their pets have been increasing in the Denver metro area.
In the past few months, coyotes have attacked and bitten a woman walking her dog in Boulder County, threatened a 14-year-old boy in Greenwood Village, taken a cat and harassed puppies in Broomfield.
Earlier this month, Greenwood Village approved limited shooting of problem coyotes by the city’s police department. None had been shot as of late last week.
Also last week, scores of people gathered in Jefferson County — where coyote complaints have been running about one per day — to discuss the coyote problems with Colorado Division of Wildlife officials and others.
They were told that public education is the most important component of coyote protection.
Citizens need to learn not to leave pets outside unprotected in areas frequented by coyotes, and people should do all they can to frighten coyotes away rather than attract them. That includes yelling or throwing rocks and sticks when coyotes come too close to people and pets, said Eliza Hunholz, a DOW area wildlife manager.
But even with all that, some coyotes have become too accustomed to humans and their activities, and too eager to look for food where humans reside.
To deal with that, the DOW is reportedly examining the possibility of creating a centralized tracking system for reports of coyote complaints. Then, if it becomes clear that one or more coyotes are creating havoc in a particular area, authorities can act to remove those particular animals, without making all coyotes in the region the victims of the aggressiveness of a few.
The DOW’s approach makes sense. Coyotes have resided in Colorado — east of the Continental Divide and on the Western Slope — since long before Europeans arrived. While those that become violent toward people or pets should be removed or destroyed, we need to find ways to accommodate these earlier residents.