Mission Hills suspends coyote trapping program after dogs are injured

Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 4:20 PM CST
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MISSION HILLS, Kan. (KCTV) - The city of Mission Hills is reviewing its next steps following an incident in Peetwood Park that left two dogs injured. A local resident contacted our investigative unit last week after her dogs, Fred and Oreo, were hurt.

The city placed the traps in response to other residents’ concerns about coyotes in the area. The city sent postcards to those living near the park and warned people in person. Elisabeth Kirsch, the owner of the injured dogs, was not notified because she lives in neighboring Prairie Village.

The city put up signs, similar to garage sale signs, warning: “Nuisance Animal Trapping IN PROGRESS. Contact City Hall FOR MORE INFORMATION.”

Kirsch saw the signs, but thinks the meaning was unclear. She had no idea that it meant her dogs were at risk of being stuck in off-set jaw traps.

Oreo was caught first. When she began howling, Kirsch immediately tried to free her, dropping Fred’s leash. Then he was stuck. Both dogs were trapped for about 20 minutes before they were freed.

She’s furious about what happened and said having the traps in a public park was “cruel, unnecessary and incredibly stupid.”

Following the incident, the traps were removed.

The city told us: “At this time, there are no current plans for trapping and the City Council asked the Crime Prevention and Safety Committee to re-review the coyote issue as well as the unfortunate trapping incident and examine potential options for moving forward.”

But, not everyone is pleased with that decision.

Since our first report, we’ve heard from a Mission Hills resident who had a pet die from a coyote attack. He wants something to be done about the coyote problem.

It’s true that coyotes are venturing closer to neighborhoods. The American Kennel Club cites their shrinking habitats and food sources. The AKC said homeowners need to invest in coyote-proof fencing, which is at least 6 feet tall and buried 18 inches in the ground. It also suggested something on the top of the fence, like barbed wire, PVC pipe or coyote rollers.

Because they carry and transmit a number of diseases and parasites, coyotes are also a concern for neighborhoods.

The city said what they did was in accordance with regulations with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks. We checked with that agency about the Mission Hills plan and were sent this response: “While KDWP had been in contact with personnel from the City of Mission Hills regarding general nuisance coyote issues, KDWP did not provide specific guidance on the techniques used in this incident.”

Since being trapped, the dogs have undergone medical treatment and surgeries, leaving Kirsch and her husband with medical bills topping $20,000. Both dogs broke bones in their jaws and faces trying to free themselves from the traps. They both also lost several teeth and have a long recovery ahead.