2018-04-12 / Letters to the Editor

No-feeding ordinance right to be enforced

To the editor:

An article in the March 29 edition of The Jamestown Press, “Cat killed by coyote off East Shore” caught my attention.

The death of a pet in this manner is always very sad and I was pleased to read Police Chief Ed Mello is taking a number of steps to better ensure the safety of town residents and their animal companions.

In particular, his decision to cite a resident for violation of the town’s wildlife no-feeding ordinance is an action to be commended.

In 2016, Jamestown became the fourth Narragansett Bay community to adopt such an ordinance, following in the footsteps of Middletown, Portsmouth and Newport. To date, however, it is only the second community to engage in active enforcement.

Portsmouth issued the first citation a couple of years ago to a resident suspected of intentionally feeding coyotes. The case went to trial and was successfully prosecuted, thanks to expert testimony from the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study and photographic evidence provided by neighbors.

When asked why Portsmouth went to the trouble of prosecuting an offense that carried so small a fine ($50 plus court costs), the town’s attorney said “it sets an important precedent.”

Indeed it does, since it’s one thing to pass an ordinance and entirely another to enforce it. Even so, Portsmouth, and now Jamestown, have shown it can be done. When enforcement is combined with the other steps Chief Mello has proposed, such as newspaper ads and signs, it could form the basis of a management plan that not only benefits residents but might also serve as a model other communities could follow.

Jo Yellis
Project coordinator
CoyoteSmarts

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