County Kills Coyote Contract

Will enter into new deal with City of Austin in January


Travis County will soon enter into a new era of coyote management. Commissioners decided on Tuesday, Dec. 5, to stop contracting with Texas Wildlife Services, opting instead to use the city of Austin's Animal Services Office to respond to wildlife issues countywide.

The majority vote by commissioners Brigid Shea, Jeff Travillion, and Margaret Gómez is a departure for the county, which for the last 12 years contracted with TWS, an office of the federal government's controversial Wildlife Services program that kills millions of animals every year. It's believed to mark the first time a Texas county has stopped using Wildlife Services due to non-budgetary concerns. Travillion explained that TWS hadn't provided adequate information on its activities and effectiveness, while Shea said she had received "increasingly disturbing reports" about the agency's practices.

At $41,500, the new city agreement will cost $3,500 less than the TWS contract. Early next year Austin's Animal Services will hire a full-time employee for the county, who will respond using guidelines that focus on education and hazing, and only allow the killing of animals deemed a threat to humans.

TWS, whose employee did not work exclusively within the county, likewise provided education, and also killed beavers, ducks, foxes, and feral pigs, as well as coyotes seen as threatening to humans, pets, and livestock. Using looser behavior metrics than the city, TWS trapped, snared, poisoned, and shot an average of 57 coyotes in Travis County each year.

County staff, Judge Sarah Eckhardt, and Commissioner Gerald Daugherty supported contracting with both TWS and the city for a total of $87,000. Eckhardt said she was worried that residents in outlying parts of the county would start shooting wildlife themselves, and also said she isn't satisfied with the city's countywide response to dangerous dogs, a comment that blindsided Animal Services and the Animal Advisory Commis­sion, which said it has never previously heard such complaints.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More coyotes
Fear & Loathing
Fear & Loathing
Travis County says goodbye to a coyote-killing machine

Lindsay Stafford Mader, Dec. 22, 2017

County Punts Coyote Plan for 90 Days
County Punts Coyote Plan for 90 Days
City will take that time to present county with alternatives to Texas Wildlife Services

Lindsay Stafford Mader, Oct. 6, 2017

More by Lindsay Stafford Mader
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
Fate of contract with Texas Wildlife Services hangs in balance at Tuesday meeting

Sept. 29, 2017

Bill of the Week: The War on the War of Northern Aggression
Bill of the Week: The War on the War of Northern Aggression
Mutual respect for those who fought for the North and South shall rise again

March 3, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Wildlife Services, Sarah Eckhardt, Travis County, coyotes

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle