Portsmouth pushes coyote no-feed ordinance

Jepsy, an especially large and healthy member of the South Portsmouth Pack (named because he has sometimes been spotted near Portsmouth's Jepson Lane). (Numi Mitchell photo) Jepsy, an especially large and healthy member of the South Portsmouth Pack (named because he has sometimes been spotted near Portsmouth's Jepson Lane). (Numi Mitchell photo)

Jepsy, an especially large and healthy member of the South Portsmouth Pack (named because he has sometimes been spotted near Portsmouth's Jepson Lane). (Numi Mitchell photo)

Jepsy, an especially large and healthy member of the South Portsmouth Pack (named because he has sometimes been spotted near Portsmouth’s Jepson Lane). (Numi Mitchell photo)

PORTSMOUTH — With coyotes growing more bold in a number of central and south Portsmouth neighborhoods, the town council took steps Monday to address the problem.

Council members voted to have the town solicitor draft an ordinance similar to the coyote no-feeding ordinance adopted in Middletown which has also had coyote issues in recent years.

In so doing, the council follows the advice of  Numi Mitchell, lead scientist for the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study.

She has been studying recent Portsmouth coyote incidents and tracking the town’s large “South Portsmouth Pack,” particularly in neighborhoods like Carriage Drive near St. Mary’s Pond. She and Department of Enironmental Management officers have been trapping coyotes and attaching radio tracking devices to them in an effort to determine travel patterns.

But experience tells her that when coyotes intrude on neighborhoods, they do so in search of easy food.

She recently told the Sakonnet Times that Middletown has had some success with a no-feed ordinance.

“Portsmouth does not (have one) yet but boy could it use it,” Ms. Mitchell said last month. She added that beyond merely agreeing not to feed coyotes, communities need to change other habits if the species are to co-exist.

When situations like this arise, “We usual find that there are food attractions” — pet food left out, food garbage, small pets.”

To those who think they are doing the “poor, hungry coyotes a kindness by feeding them, you’re not. You are just going to get them killed.”

If there is not an easy food source, coyotes will move along, “but if they are rewarded for passing through neighborhoods, they will certainly be back.

People may have to change things they have done, she said, like letting pets loose and leaving bowls of dog food and cans of garbage outside.

Many say that evidence of Portsmouth’s coyote situation can be seen in the lost cat posters seen all over the south-central part of town.

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