Coyote (Wisconsin DNR photo)
Wauwatosa residents have been increasingly speaking out against the trapping of coyotes in the Milwaukee-area suburb. Protests have sprung up in the city in recent weeks, headed by the group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE). Local coyotes were blamed after a resident reported that a 50-pound dog, left unattended, had suffered from puncture wounds in late 2022. Police verified the report, and the resident requested trapping in January.
By early February, the company Recon Trapping was hired by the city for a two-week contract. A press release by DxE stated that the company uses steel jaw traps and other methods to trap coyotes. The last time coyotes were killed in Wauwatosa was in early 2022. The Patch also reported at the time that five coyotes were captured.
In January 2022, after a small terrier was taken by a coyote, the city of Wauwatosa hired the trapper who later conducted the recent trapping program.
At the time, residents also reported seeing coyotes in their neighborhood. According to a DxE press release, some claimed to have seen a coyote limping through their neighborhood, dragging a trap.
Protesters are concerned that the traps could also harm raccoons, opossums and cats. The city has long-held concerns regarding conflicts with wildlife, and has advised residents to not feed wildlife, keep a watchful eye on pets, and to “haze,” or attempt to scare off, coyotes including by making loud noises or shaking noise makers as recommended by the Wisconsin DNR.
Protesters who oppose more recent trapping say the traps indiscriminately trap coyotes. The animal that caused the dog’s puncture wounds was never seen or identified.
There is also concern that killing random coyotes could change their pack structure. Due to specialized adaptations, when coyote populations are stressed, their litter sizes go up to replace the losses. Wauwatosa resident Karen Erdtmann said in a DxE press release that responsible dog ownership is also a factor. “When I lived in rural Wisconsin I could hear them calling at night,” said Erdtmann. “I keep a responsible watch on my dog, give shelter to the feral cats, and listen to their beautiful chatter. They are there for a reason, and we need to learn to co-exist.”
Shawn Rossler, a furbearer specialist at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) told Wisconsin Examiner that trapping is highly regulated. “The city of Wauwatosa has a coyote management and response plan,” said Rossler in a statement. “Response levels and actions within the plan do include regulated trapping as an option. The use of traps must adhere to the state of Wisconsin trapping regulations, other applicable state statutes or administrative codes, and city ordinances. Trapping in Wisconsin is highly regulated. Our Wisconsin trapping regulations include the use of traps that are selective, of appropriate size for the species, and have been tested through the best management practices.”
Correction: This article has been edited to correct the timeline of events from the late 2022, when the attack on a pet dog was reported, to the city taking action to hire a trapper, and to correct when coyotes were last killed in Wauwatosa, according to the city. Efforts by the city to advise residents on wildlife interactions were also added, including the city’s recommendation that residents use “hazing” to scare off coyotes. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the city said not to use this practice. We regret the error.
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