As the seasons change, it’s of vital importance to keep residents up to date on wildlife behaviour. The more background we have, the better able we are to protect wildlife, their habitat and keep our families safe and in the know.
Choosing a mate, hunting, locating a den site and establishing a territory are just some of the activities that keep coyotes on the move during the spring months. Because of their natural course of activities, reports of coyote sightings increase during specific times of the year, including spring and fall. There are precautions can be taken that minimize conflict with wildlife and still celebrate their presence in our landscapes.
Coyotes are highly sociable and curious, and they are diligent and devoted parents. A coyote parent will consider a domestic dog a threat to their young pups if a family dog is allowed to chase, harass or disturb a coyote or den area. Respect coyote dens and never interfere with parents and their pups. A lone pup usually has a parent close by.
Keeping the community safe and wildlife protected is a collective undertaking and many partners are involved. Residents have a responsibility as well. By taking responsibility for our own safety by following pet leash by-laws and not providing food attractants to coyotes, we are able to keep our community members and surrounding wildlife safe. Most of the time, a coyote will run away if a human is in the vicinity.
Why are there coyotes in urban areas?
The Eastern Coyote is an extremely intelligent, family oriented and highly adaptive species. Since the 17th century, the landscape of Ontario has vastly changed, pushing out the natural species – bears, wolves, cougars and so on – and making a vacuum in the ecosystem. Coyotes are easily able to navigate urban landscapes and have filled the hole created in the ecosystem. There are plenty of natural food sources provided in urban settings such as rodents and rabbits.
Can we relocate them, or keep them out?
Though we see the city as separate from nature, it has a thriving ecosystem that includes not only ravines and parks but streets, backyards, industrial parks and construction sites. Relocating (or killing) coyotes is not recommended, difficult to accomplish and only a band-aid solution. Trapping a coyote and euthanizing it does not address the inherent issues in a community that create conflict such as feeding, improper garbage disposal and dogs off leash. Removing a coyote opens up the landscape for another coyote or two to move in filling nature’s vacancy. Much like birds, squirrels, raccoons and other animals, they have found a permanent home in urban areas. Coyotes are beneficial to the eco-system as well; they are Mother Nature’s cleanup crew and help keep populations of rodents under control. Relocation is a problem as well since wherever the coyote is relocated will already have established coyotes in the area, and territoriality can make survival very unlikely. Attempting to remove one coyote from an area can also separate a family unit, which can lead to a lack of critical education for young pups (as both male and female coyotes raise their pups together) and sadly even starvation.
How can I minimize attractants?
There are several common things around homes that will often attract coyotes and other wildlife. To minimize these attractants, it is recommended that residents keep garbage, recycling and compost indoors until 6 am, keep meat and egg products separate from composting until it is set out, pick up and appropriately discard fallen fruit and berries, do not leave pet bowls outside, close off any access to the underside of decks or sheds, clean grills, leave no food outdoors and ensure cats are kept indoors. Dogs should be kept leashed and supervised, especially at night. Overflowing bird feeders attract prey species and potentially invite coyotes to visit too. Clean up underneath the bird feeder and avoid throwing seeds on the ground. Consider putting away your feeder and naturalizing the property with indigenous flora that will encourage wildlife. Predatory birds such as owls, hawks and eagles are also attracted to prey that frequent bird feeders which puts free roaming cats and small dogs at risk of predation by these species.
What is hazing?
Hazing is a method of negative association – when a coyote (or other animal) is in an area we don’t want it hanging around in, like a backyard, scaring it away will make it less likely to return. By consistently doing this, they will be more likely to avoid that spot in the future. Hazing can include making loud noises (yelling, not screaming), waving arms, popping open an umbrella, shaking car keys, throwing objects near, but not at, the animal and chasing. It is also commonly referred to as ‘aversion conditioning’, or ‘escape conditioning’. Hazing is only effective in the long-term if it is coupled with food removal and the other cornerstone components of the Coyote Watch Canada coexistence plan (investigation, education, prevention and enforcement). Coyotes should only be hazed if they are inappropriately encroaching on property or showing a lack of fear toward people.
Tips For The Great Outdoors
Backyard and on the Trail
•Never feed coyotes. We need to keep them wild and wary of people.
•Celebrate with children about local wildlife.
•Teach children how to respect wildlife from afar.
•Education is empowerment, removes the fear-based misinformation.
•Wildlife proof your home.
•Clean around BBQ.
•Never leave pets unattended even in enclosed areas.
•Birdfeeders attract prey species like rats and mice that are prey food for predatory animals.
Again, feeding wildlife puts them and you at risk.
• Seasonal changes influence coyote and wildlife behaviour in general.
• Canids are naturally curious and intelligent animals. Young coyotes are especially eager to learn about their new world.
• Carry out all left over food/garbage from the landscape.
• Remove dog excrement.
• Never approach wildlife, den sites or young.
• Keep domestic dogs leashed at all times.
• Carry a shake can, umbrella or whistle in coyote territory.
Encounters with a coyote or fox
• Stop on the trail, pick up small children and pets.
• Never turn your back to, or run from, a domestic dog or coyote.
• Stand still, then assertively shout and wave your arms above the head, stomping feet and slowly back away.
• Share your experience and inform the proper authorities if you see someone feeding or harming wildlife.
For more information please visit www.coyotewatchcanada.com. The Coyote Hotline is also available by calling 1-905-931-2610