Ten housecats have gone missing on Fishers Island in the past week, and residents believe coyotes are to blame.
So says island resident Charles Kadushin, whose cat disappeared on Memorial Day and has not been seen since.
Mr. Kadushin said coyotes have been seen all over the island over the past two years and are becoming more prevalent all the time, and some of his neighbors said they can be heard howling along with the fire department’s noon whistle.
“They’re lots of places, in the fort area, they’ve been seen climbing over garden fences,” he said after a special Southold Town Board meeting on Fishers Island Wednesday. “I suppose they’re kind of cute, but they can be dangerous. They attack cats and dogs.”
Mr. Kadushin said that he believes the coyotes are swimming to the island from Connecticut, which has a growing coyote problem of its own.
“They’re known to be very good swimmers,” he said.
Mr. Kadushin said that he’d been keeping an eye out for his cat, but after realizing that other people’s cats have also gone missing “now I know for sure it will never be seen again.”
“All we can do is keep our animals inside,” he said.
Members of the Town Board told Mr. Kadushin that they will make the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation aware of his concerns.
“I have to be candid. I didn’t know there was a problem with coyotes on Fishers Island,” said Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “I wish I could marry your coyote problem to my deer problem on my side of the island,” he said, drawing laughter from the community members in attendance.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, Emergency Medical Technician Captain Sarah MacLean asked what can be done to help the island’s emergency services receive the training they need.
Up until about four years ago, her EMTs could receive certification after being trained by personnel from Connecticut, but New York no longer accepts training credits earned in another state.
“It’s more ideal for us to be trained from the beginning by New York instructors,” she said.
Southold invested earlier this year in hardware that would allow video conferencing between the island and the mainland, allowing island EMTs to take web-based training courses with instructors from Suffolk County, but they have had difficulty getting the system to work well because the internet connection on Fishers Island does not have enough bandwidth to adequately carry the video feed, said Southold Systems Administrator Lloyd Reisenberg.
“Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t,” agreed Town Board Fishers Island Representative Louisa Evans.
“It’s an internet capacity issue,” she said. “We need to work it out with the utility company.”
For the third year in a row, island resident Ken Edwards asked town officials to push for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles to provide mobile services on the island. He said it currently takes island residents one or two days to get to Long Island to visit the DMV.
Mr. Russell said that the town had requested the services, but they had been denied.
State Assemblyman Dan Losquadro said his request for the same services had also been denied by the DMV.
“If ever there was an area in need of mobile outreach, it would certainly be an island off the coast of Long Island,” he said.
Town Land Management representatives toured preserved land on the island, Town Trustees inspected seven properties that are in line for Trustee permits, and the town’s Youth Bureau representatives met with teenagers on the island before a town-sponsored barbecue and meeting at 1:30 p.m.
A tugboat that had been scuttled on the rocks at the annual meeting one year ago was still on the rocks when the boat arrived at the island Wednesday morning, despite requests one year ago that it be removed.
Mr. Russell also promised island residents that an island-wide repaving project, which began last year, will soon be completed.