The SPCA Serving Erie County is now working with Forest Lawn Cemetery to form a non-lethal strategy to help the latter rid its grounds of a coyote spotted there.
A coyote sighting was reported on the 270-acre site two weeks ago, according to Forest Lawn spokesman Mark DePalma. Deer live on the cemetery land and the coyote is blamed for the deaths of fawns on the grounds.
"Our primary concern, of course, is the safety of our visitors and the safety of the wildlife within Forest Lawn," he said. "Upon recognizing that the coyote was there, contacted the DEC for their assistance."
With the Department of Environmental Conservation's permission, Forest Lawn earlier this week announced it would work with a Springville-based company to eliminate coyotes by setting up traps. It resulted in some social media backlash and soon after the SPCA offered its services to help craft a non-lethal alternative.
"Forest Lawn, when we initially called them, the folks there were immediately receptive to an alternative other than trapping," said SPCA spokeswoman Gina Browning. "I think they were of the mind it was the only alternative they had to keep people safe."
Browning and DePalma shared the point that safety to people visiting the cemetery is the first concern. Instead of traps, though, both entities are exploring ways to discourage the presence of coyotes on the grounds.
Wild animals including deer roam the grounds, providing coyotes with an inviting food source. But humans may also inadvertently play a role if they are feeding other animals. DePalma says Forest Lawn discourages people from feeding any animals on their grounds.
"We'll be more explicit in instructions to our visitors about what to do and what not to do, any precautions that might be appropriate in this case," DePalma said.
Forest Lawn is also interested in educating people how to respond to an encounter with coyotes. Noting that the species is an elusive one that prefers avoiding human encounters, the SPCA suggests making loud noises and waving arms to startle the coyote and prompt it to leave the scene.