When you see coyotes strolling into town to forage within city limits, who are you going to call?
First, probably the police department to register a concern. If he receives enough complaints, Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning knows who to call, too.
Gary McCloud of Hillsboro is a local trapper who has addressed the coyote population in the fairly recent past. Three years ago, McCloud pulled 14 coyotes over a 21⁄2-week stretch.
This year, the number was 23.
“They were on their way into the city limits,” McCloud said of the animals. “We caught seven out at the airport that were going over to Carriage Hills and Willow Glen (local housing developments).
“We caught some west of town, and the vast majority came from the east side town along the new bike path.”
Chief Kinning said most coyote sightings happen early in the morning, often between 4-5 a.m.
“Once we got two or three (sightings), I could tell from the last time that we were probably going to have a problem,” Kinning said. “We decided to be proactive this time and not wait.”
McCloud said coyotes come into town because most cities have a population of stray cats.
“People leave food out for the cats and dogs—it’s really easy hunting for (the coyotes),” McCloud said.
Another factor is the increasing population of coyotes across the county, he said.
“What happens when they get populated is that they’re going to start spreading out,” McCloud said. “I’m really surprised we haven’t had a problem before now.”
McCloud has an animal-damage control license issued through the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
“We have to go up and take tests and prove we’re proficient,” he said. “We have to prove that we can release animals safely, if needed.”
McCloud said he uses only non-lethal footholds, which help protect pets that might be snared unintentionally.
“We don’t use any snares or anything like that—just in case someone lets their dog out while they’re out on a walk,” he said. “At least it’s not going to destroy the animal.
McCloud has been a licensed trapper for the past eight years; he said he grew up interested in hunting.
“I found out early on that I had a knack for catching animals,” he said. “I didn’t start trapping until I got my animal-damage control permit.
“It all got started when I was trapping badgers for farmers. I figured I had to check my traps every day anyway so I might as well trap coons, coyotes and so forth.”
Though some people may find the idea diastaseful to trap wild animals in order to control their population, McCloud said leaving population control to nature is a harsher option.
“If we don’t control them, Mother Nature will do it—and she’s viscous,” McCloud said.
Trapping season in Kansas begins in November and ends Feb. 15. Because McCloud carries a state permit, he can trap certain animals year round.
McCloud said he provides his trapping services to the city of Hillsboro for no charge.
Asked if her would perform the same service for other communities, he replied with a smile, “Not for free.”