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New Castle Town Board Disbands Coyote Committees, Reviews Plan

New Castle Town Board members at their June 2 work session.
New Castle Town Board members at their June 2 work session. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The New Castle Town Board recently voted to disband a pair of coyote-management committees while also giving more time to revise a response plan, video of the board's May 26 meeting shows.

The vote in favor of disbanding the committees passed by a 3-2 margin following testy dialogue at the meeting. Voting in favor were Supervisor Rob Greenstein, Deputy Supervisor Lisa Katz and Councilman Adam Brodsky. Councilman Jason Chapin and Councilwoman Elise Kessler Mottel each voted against disbanding the groups.

The two groups, formed in September, were called the New Castle Coyote Awareness & Safety Advisory Committee and the New Castle Coyote Management Task Force.

The groups took different positions on when it is acceptable to kill coyotes. The advisory committee has argued that it should be limited to when they show signs of illness such as rabies or when they attack pets under people's control, which refers to in their arms or lap, or are on short leashes. The advisory committee has also warned against relying on killing coyotes as a primary method of dealing with them, as doing so is followed with rebounding populations.

The task force, in contrast, has advocated using lethal force proactively if coyotes are not responsive to hazing - it is a behavioral-control technique where people make noises and movements meant to be intimidating - and if people or pets feel "threatened."

At the May 26 meeting, when Greenstein voiced support for winding down the committees' rolls, he alluded to the contentious dialogue that took place in recent months.

“Well, I think the circus needs to end,” he said.

That response was met with a rebuke from Chapin, who called the circus language disrespectful and added that his colleague was using the term to refer to the work done.

Greenstein denied that his comment was referring to the committees' work, which he praised.

Victoria Alzapiedi, who chaired the advisory committee, said at the meeting that she felt like she was on the defensive during times when she spoke.

“I feel like i'm on trial.”

During a subsequent work session held on June 2, board members talked with New Castle Police Chief Charles Ferry, who has been working on the town's coyote response plan. Officials discussed public input that has been received. The meeting briefly became testy between Greenstein and Chapin, as the supervisor briefly referred to the past use of "coyote jihad" a few months ago.

“You know, I was hoping we would have a constructive conversation," Chapin said. "You seem to always want to go back to that, which then leads to a very contentious conversation, and it would be really helpful if you didn’t make those comments.”

Greenstein replied that Chapin was the one being contentious. He then clarified how he was discussing the town's limited role in handling coyote management on private properties.

“I’m just saying that, I just want residents to rest assured, councilman, that with this plan that we’re adopting, it only has – we only control our parks and public land, and this is –we do not control private property owners and they are free to call DEC and – and do what they want with their own property.”

Alzapiedi was also present at the work session and offered feedback for the response plan.

A revised draft of the response plan is available to read here.

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