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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
March 21, 2005

Man vs. varmint
Allow us to marvel, for a moment, about the glorious biological diversity of southern New Jersey.

Here in the most crowded state in the nation, a state commonly linked in public perception to "The Sopranos," smog and sprawl ... here, in Lower Township, just 50 miles or so from the neon and glitz of Atlantic City, the major problem of the moment is ... Canis latrans.

That is, the eastern coyote.

Coyotes killed a poodle in February. In January, the West Cape May fire chief saw a pack of nine coyotes in his yard; they killed the ducks in his pond. More recently, a West Cape May borough commissioner spotted a coyote in the Borough Hall parking lot. And coyotes recently chewed through a door at the Cape May Carriage Company and devoured a guinea hen.

Dang. Varmints! Right here in New Joisey.

Which is not to make light of Lower Township's coyote problem. Folks are nervous, scared even. Letting your pet poodle out the back door and then hearing him yip as a coyote attacks is not exactly an everyday event in New Jersey. Nor do police often find the need to advise residents that hunting with high-powered rifles is illegal in the state and that, when taking down a coyote, a shotgun loaded with No. 4 shot is best.

Not that Lower Township Police Capt. Ed Donohue is recommending that residents take matters into their own hands. The right thing to do is to call police if you spot a coyote, Donohue says. Then again, homeowners have certain rights if a coyote is threatening their property, even though the official coyote-hunting season is over (yes, there is one). But Donohue warns residents to use "extreme caution" if they need to shoot a coyote.

This sounds more like a scene out of "Bonanza" than anything Tony Soprano would be involved in.

Coyote sightings are not necessarily new in the area, but clearly the Lower Township coyote population has grown to worrisome levels. The coyotes are dangerous - and so are homeowners firing shotguns out their backdoors at night.

The state Division of Fish and Wildlife will hold an informational session for worried residents at 7 p.m. March 31 in Township Hall. That's a fine idea - but the state should also give immediate and serious consideration to allowing a special hunt of Lower Township's varmints.

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