Charleston, W.Va. -- Residents of Putnam County believe they have a problem, and they want to do something about it.
The problem, said Ellen Mills-Pauley, is coyotes.
"Individual members of the Putnam County Farm Bureau have come to the bureau's Board of Directors with complaints of losing sheep and young calves to coyotes," said Mills-Pauley, one of the board members. "We know it's a problem and we thought it would be a good subject to start the year off with."
The meeting, scheduled for Jan. 13 at the old Putnam County courthouse in Winfield, will feature two speakers -- Jason Miller of the state Division of Natural Resources; and Bill Winkler, a retired Charleston city policeman who traps coyotes.
"Coyote control is a huge problem in Putnam County right now," Mills-Pauley said. "We need some way to control them, and we believe these gentlemen can give us some guidance."
DNR officials believe coyotes first migrated into the state from Ohio some 30 years ago, and their population has since expanded into every county. Subsequent studies have shown that coyotes prey on deer, small livestock, house pets, and small mammals such as rabbits and mice.
Mills-Pauley said coyotes have killed all but one of her chickens, and routinely pick off the cats she keeps outdoors on her farmstead.
"Lots of people seem to be having problems," she added. "At the very least, I hope this meeting can promote coyote hunting or trapping as a way to keep the population under control."
Fur prices are high right now, which Mills-Pauley said should help encourage hunters and trappers to spend more time in pursuit of coyotes.
Monday's meeting is open to the public, and Mills-Pauley said light refreshments would be served.
"This isn't just for Putnam County residents, either," she said. "We would encourage people from surrounding counties who have coyote problems to come, as well."
The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the old courtroom of the old courthouse. For more information, contact Farm Bureau president Eddie Morgan at 304-546-2669.
Reach John McCoy at johnmc...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1231.