2011-08-11 / News

Society gets ready to kick off summer wildlife education program

BY KEN SHANE


According to the Humane Society of Jamestown, thanks to the cooperation of islanders, the coyote population has been less problematic lately. Numi Mitchell of the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study said that Jamestowners heeded the call not to feed the canines. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CONSERVATION AGENCY According to the Humane Society of Jamestown, thanks to the cooperation of islanders, the coyote population has been less problematic lately. Numi Mitchell of the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study said that Jamestowners heeded the call not to feed the canines. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE CONSERVATION AGENCY The Humane Society of Jamestown is offering a summer program called “A Week of Woodland Animals.” The program will be held at the Philomenian Library and is open to children ages 8 to 10. Admission is free.

The program allows students to learn about five different woodland animals, their anatomy, habitats, food preferences and contributions to the ecosystem. Students will also be encouraged to share their own stories about wild animals in Jamestown, and there will be a variety of activities including guessing games, stories and art projects. The teacher for the program is Ann Marie Lepre.

“This is a first for the humane society as we work to promote compassion towards animals in our world,” said society President Nancy Crawford. “We teach a humane education course to secondand third-graders in Jamestown as well as other South County schools.”

Crawford said that since this is the first year for the program, the society is trying to pique the curiosity of children towards wildlife that they are surrounded by, especially animals here on the island.

The week-long program is an offshoot of the humane education program that the society has offered to Jamestown classrooms for 30 years. It is also offered to other classrooms in the South County area.

According to Jane Koster, a humane society board member, “Our goal is to teach this to as many children in this age group as possible. We are offering it this year in Jamestown as a pilot program to see what the response is to a summer program.”

Along with the exciting announcement of the summer program, the society is also keeping an eye on the island’s coyote population. The society is happy to note that there is good news on that end. According to Numi Mitchell of the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study, the island’s “expert” on coyotes, residents have heeded the call not to feed the canines. Many islanders have also conformed to the suggesting that they should keep their cats indoors. Farmers are disposing of dead livestock in such a way that it does not provide food for the local coyote population. As a result, the number of coyotes on the island seems to be decreasing, and the remaining animals are staying out of sight, which is their nature.

“This study has been ongoing for several years,” said Crawford. “We have in the past heard many complaints about the coyotes in Jamestown and these seem to be non-existent as of late. We still have coyotes here, but they are behaving as they should, being reclusive and finding their food in the wild.”

Despite the progress made in regard to the coyote population, rabies remains an issue that the humane society takes seriously. The society strongly recommends that every pet be immunized. This can take place during an annual veterinary check up. As an alternative, on the first weekend of April each year, the humane society partners with the state and the town to provide low-cost immunizations.

One of the society’s more important ongoing programs is the Compassionate Response Fund, which helps low-income residents pay for veterinary care for their companion animals. The society also provides information on economic veterinary care, and low-cost spaying and neutering programs. In addition, there are rebate programs for islanders who want to spay or neuter their dog or cat.

“We support the Compassionate Response Fund with membership fees, donations and with some assistance from the Rhode Island Foundation,” Crawford said. “In these tough economic times we are getting more and more requests from island residents who cannot afford the unexpected veterinary bills that are associated with owning a pet. We get referrals from word of mouth and from area veterinarians who are aware of what we do. It is anonymous and open to any resident. I think it’s one of the most important ways that we can give back to the community and many times this keeps the pet with its owner. And we all love our pets.”

The society also has a program that sends letters to legislators requesting their attention on bills protecting animal rights. Raising awareness can be accomplished in different ways. Crawford said that there is evidence that lawmakers around the world are listening.

Parents who are interested in having their children attend the “Week of Woodland Animals” program are asked to send a letter with their name, address, phone number, email address and child’s name and age to the Humane Society of Jamestown at P.O. Box 681. The deadline for registration is Monday, Aug. 16, and the class size is limited to 12 students.

The society meets monthly at 5 p.m. on Mondays at the library. Members volunteer at town activities and network with the North Kingstown Animal Shelter and the Potter League for Animals in Middletown. At the meetings, members discuss animal activities in Jamestown and around the world, and look for ways to promote the humane treatment of animals. Crawford said that the group is always looking for new board members.

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