EAST ELMHURST, Queens — Five coyotes living on LaGuardia Airport property have been captured and euthanized.
The family of coyotes was first spotted earlier this year in their den. They were inhabiting an area that's been designated a parking lot for LaGuardia employees.
The coyotes have been seen roaming at night and even venturing into the street.
On one side of the controversy, officials from The Port Authority said the coyotes pose a threat and something had to be done.
On the other side of the argument, animal lovers said the measure was extreme and the coyotes should’ve been left alone.
In a statement to PIX11 News, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey states: "Coyotes were located and euthanized to help keep airport travelers, workers and nearby residents safe after the coyotes became acclimated to humans, increasing the possibility of an attack. The actions were in accordance with the law for handling such situations."
But Frank Vincenti disagrees.
Vincenti heads The Wild Dog Foundation. Based in Mineola, the non-profit organization is devoted to documenting coyotes and protecting them as they live among us.
"I have been in their presence hundreds of times in the past six months and I never felt threatened," said Vincenti.
Vincenti says nearly every night of the week, he's spent time with this family of coyotes.
"I'd sit and enjoy them because they're a big part of my life," said Vincenti.
He's counted up to three adults and eight pups, all living on LaGuardia Airport property bordering the bridge to Rikers Island.
Vincenti says the coyotes actually fear humans and shy away from them. He is devastated by the news that earlier this week five of the coyotes were trapped and put down.
"The deterrence I was doing actually was working," Vincenti said. "I would chase them to discourage them from being too comfortable."
Author, philanthropist and animal rights activist Jean Shafiroff offered to shoulder the cost of relocating the animals but The Port Authority had already moved to capture and euthanize them.
"They could've been saved, I was willing to pay for their transport, whatever the cost," said Shafiroff.
"I don't think it was necessary to euthanize these coyotes. I think they could've been transported and had a good life in a sanctuary," she added.
Sparked by the growing populations of animals like deer and coyote, the city recently launched the “WildlifeNYC” campaign – to increase public awareness about living alongside wildlife in the city.