Coyotes have been making headlines in the region and across the province since the start of the year. A dog was eaten by coyotes in Cambridge in early January; a few weeks later, an eight-year-old girl was attacked in suburban Oakville. And in November, paw prints ran through a playground Meinzinger Park in central Kitchener.
Tips for co-existing with urban coyotes
Secure your garbage and compost in durable plastic containers with locking lids. Never compost meat or other animal products in outdoor composters. It is also important to make sure that pet food is not left outdoors, as this can also attract animals to your yard.
Always keep your dog on a leash and under control. Domestic dogs are a threat to a coyote, and some smaller dogs and cats are the same size as a coyote’s regular food and they could attempt to catch and eat pets.
While the city does not post signs to warn people about the presence of coyotes, signage is posted to remind pet owners of the city bylaw prohibiting pet owners from allowing their pets to run off-leash. Keeping pets on a leash - or indoors - will help keep them safe. Coyotes view free-running pets as threats and they will protect their territory by attacking the other animal.
“Coyotes have adapted very well to life in the city, can live in close proximity with their human neighbours and are a beneficial and important animal in an urban environment because they help control small animal populations,” said Josh Shea, natural areas co-ordinator for the city. “Generally, coyotes don’t pose a threat to human safety, but understanding and respecting them can avoid problems.”
If you do encounter a coyote, remain calm and slowly back away while giving the animal enough space to escape. If necessary, you should leave the area. Concerns about abnormal coyote behaviour should be reported to the city by calling 519-741-2345
“Coyotes are curious animals that are very aware of their surroundings and the activities happening in their territories.” said Shea, “There is no reason to be afraid if you observe a coyote. From an ecological perspective, having these animals live in and near urban areas is a positive, as they are a natural part of a healthy environment.”
Urban coyote facts
The dog-like animal is a common, although rarely encountered, animal in Kitchener, and is often seen and heard in areas that in areas near farmland, green spaces and natural areas.
The coyote is a highly adaptable and intelligent animal that feeds on a wide variety of food items including fruits, vegetables, mice, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, geese, ducks, deer, beaver and domestic pets, including cats and dogs.
Coyotes are mainly active at dusk, dawn and during the night but can be seen at anytime of the day, especially during the spring season when they are busy catching food to feed their young. During the winter season, coyotes are also observed more frequently as young animals begin to move around looking for unoccupied territories and the adults are preparing for the breeding season. Also due to the fact that there are no leaves on the trees, it is easier to notice or see these animals.
Coyotes live in small groups that include the adult parents and the young, which are born in April or May. Coyotes can often be heard barking, yipping and yelping during the spring and early summer season when they are raising and teaching their young how to locate and catch food.
Coyotes are territorial and will protect their territory against other coyotes. They will also defend their territory against other species, including cats and dogs. This behaviour is quite natural and is not a sign of the coyote acting overly aggressive.
Like other species of mammals, coyotes can carry rabies. With strict rabies control and prevention programs in Ontario, the likelihood of encountering a coyote with rabies is extremely rare.
The Kitchener Natural Areas Program is a great community resource for more information on coyotes and other local wildlife. Regular environmental events and hikes are planned at local natural areas, providing residents with first-hand education on these topics. For more information, please visit http://www.kitchener.ca/en/livinginkitchener/KitchenerNaturalAreasProgram.asp
In the country, coyotes are commonly found in open, agricultural land that includes woodlots and areas covered with brush. In cities, coyotes prefer natural green space, such as parks, ravines and stream banks.
Conflicts with coyotes
Coyotes can raise concerns when they
- feed on garbage, compost, fruit or vegetable gardens
- prey on livestock or pets
- come too close to people.
Conflicts can often be prevented by making changes on your property. For example, removing sources of food by protecting pets and livestock, fencing gardens, and securing garbage and compost, will help encourage coyotes to go elsewhere. Most importantly, never feed coyotes or other wildlife.
For detailed information, refer to these links:
- The Nature of Coyotes
- Encounters with Coyotes
- What Municipalities Need to Know
- Predation and Compensation
- Protecting Dogs from Coyotes
- Wildlife and Protecting Your Property
- Coyote-Proofing Your Property
Lethal action is a last resort
- A landowner may humanely kill or trap coyotes that are damaging or about to damage their property. Trapping regulations and firearm regulations and bylaws must be followed.
- Landowners in central and northern Ontario (roughly north of the Severn River, Bancroft and Pembroke) must report coyotes killed in protection of property to their local Ministry of Natural Resources office.
- You may also hire an agent on your behalf.
- To locate a licensed trapper, contact the Ontario Fur Managers Federation at (705) 254-3338 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (705) 254-3338 highlighting or by e-mail at email@example.com
ONTARIO MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Living with Wolves
They are an important part of our ecosystem and contribute to Ontario's rich biodiversity. The presence of wolves is a good indication that our natural spaces are healthy.
Wolves are shy and generally avoid humans. However, wolves are social animals: they not only hunt in packs or groups but live most of their lives with other wolves. Wolf packs will reuse den sites over multiple years.
The pack bond is strongest during winter, when the wolves travel and hunt together. In summer, when the pups are young, the adults seldom go on long forays. They may hunt together occasionally after meeting at the den or home site where the pups are being cared for.
Natural prey for wolves includes moose, deer, elk, caribou and beaver.
Wolves are territorial. Each pack occupies an area that it will defend against intruders. Sizes of territories vary greatly depending on the kind and abundance of prey available. When neighbouring packs trespass into each other's territories, fights often ensue that frequently result in the death of pack members.
Wolves sometimes find their way to residential areas, where they may come into conflict with pets, disturb garbage, and cause concern for residents.
Please keep in mind…
Wild animals have the same basic needs as humans – food, water and shelter. Sometimes, humans and wild creatures come into conflict when animals are trying to meet their basic needs. Often, conflicts can be prevented if we're willing to make small changes to how we think and act.
People and wild animals live side by side in Ontario. We all share responsibility for preventing and handling human-wildlife conflicts. If you must take action against wildlife, please consider all your options and follow all relevant laws and regulations.
Conflicts with Wolves
How Can I Prevent Conflicts?
Limit food sources
- Never feed wolves.
- Keep pet food indoors.
- Secure garbage in durable plastic containers with locking lids.
- Store garbage indoors until collection day.
- Keep compost in containers that keep wolves out while allowing for ventilation.
- Avoid adding dog or cat waste, or meat, milk or eggs to composters.
- Do not feed wildlife such as deer to prevent attracting wolves to your property; remove deer food and salt blocks.
Make your property unwelcoming
- Prune bushes and clean up brush piles.
- Eliminate small mammal habitat (rock piles, wood or debris).
- Use flashing lights, motion sensors and noise makers to deter wolves.
- Fence your property to make it less accessible with a two-metre high fence that extends at least 20 centimetres underground.
- Install a roller system that can be attached to the top of your fence preventing animals from gaining the foothold they need to pull themselves up and over the top of a fence.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches, decks and sheds.
How Can I Handle a Conflict?
If you encounter a wolf
- Never approach or touch a wolf.
- Never attempt to "tame" a wolf.
- Do not turn your back on, or run from, a wolf. Back away from the animal while remaining calm.
- Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise.
- Use whistles and personal alarm devices to frighten an approaching or threatening animal.
- Carry a flashlight at night to scare off wolves.
- Do not let dogs chase a wolf. Chasing wolves could result in injuries to your pet.
- A landowner may humanely kill or trap wolves that are damaging or about to damage their property. Firearm regulations and bylaws must be followed.
- Landowners in central and northern Ontario must report wolves killed in protection of property to their local Ministry of Natural Resources office.
- You may also hire an agent to act on your behalf.
To locate a local wildlife control agent…
• Speak with your neighbours, family and friends.
• Look for "animal control" in your phone book or online.
To locate a licensed trapper...
• Contact the Ontario Fur Managers Federation at (705) 254-3338 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (705) 254-3338 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on wolves…
• Call your local Ministry of Natural Resources office or the Natural Resources Information Centre at 1-800-667-1940