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County opts for less lethal treatment of coyotes

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 by Caleb Pritchard

Travis County is putting its wildlife management in the mostly non-lethal hands of the city of Austin. A divided Commissioners Court voted on Tuesday to end its arrangement with the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s Texas Wildlife Services in favor of the city’s Animal Services Office. The county already has an existing interlocal agreement with the ASO, but Tuesday’s action will add an extra $41,500 to that to hire a new full-time employee to keep a handle on coyotes and other critters in unincorporated areas. The city’s approach to coyotes favors a humane touch, with emphasis on community education, tranquilizers and paintballs. According to the city’s official coyote management policy, “lethal responses (coyote removal) shall be considered only after Assigned City Staff determines that the preponderance of evidence from evaluation of coyote behavior reports, field investigations, consultations with appropriate wildlife professionals, and any other documentable evidence identifies a specific animal or group of animals that pose the threat.” County staff had recommended utilizing both the city and TWS, a suggestion moved by Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and seconded by County Judge Sarah Eckhardt. However, Commissioner Margaret Gómez offered the substitute motion to simply go with the city, an effort that prevailed over Daugherty and Eckhardt’s opposition with the support of commissioners Brigid Shea and Jeff Travillion.

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