Coyotes are commonly found in parks and ravines throughout the Greater Toronto Area, but recently have recently been invading urban areas in southern Ontario with greater frequency.
Several isolated incidents with coyotes have been reported in the following cities, all within the first two months of 2018:
A Collingwood family reported wild attack on their dog by what they believe was a pack of coyotes. The incident occurred right in their backyard on Jan. 23.
“She got out and I ran to grab her and call her back in and she had headed to the backyard and that’s when I heard these noises,” Kristina, the mother, said. “I took her into the vet and they saw fang marks. She had to have surgery, there is a drainage tube sticking out.”
Apparently, this wasn’t the first coyote sighting in the area — according to a community-formed Facebook group, a pack of three tried to attack another neighbourhood dog on Jan. 15 and 20.
In the Halton region, coyotes are so common that there’s even a Halton Coyote Lookout service, where residents can report all sightings and encounters to help raise awareness and safety in the community.
In 2018, there have already been over 40 reports. Most of them were sightings, but others were more serious incidents.
"I live on Trillium Terrace in Acton and we are close to a golf course and back onto a bush,” one resident reports. “Last night (Jan. 26) I let my small dog out onto our back deck to do his business and he was taken into the woods by a coyote. My heart is broken."
A Markham woman encountered a prowling coyote who chased her and her dog in a residential neighbourhood on Jan. 11. She tried scaring the coyote away by chucking snow at it, but it would not back down.
Her screams for help were heard by a fellow neighbour who then went outside and started banging her shovel on the side of her porch fence in attempt to scare the coyote away. Despite these efforts, the coyote still persisted, and made a final lunge at the dog.
Luckily, the woman snatched her dog just in time and was able to make it safely into her neighbour’s house.
An entire community in Niagara Falls has been plagued with an influx of coyotes that have even started making dens in people’s backyards. It doesn’t help that there’s also a rat problem in the neighbourhood — the area becomes a feeding ground for the coyotes and it gives them a reason to keep coming back.
“I literally can stand in my backyard and watch the rats come from his property and scurry across my property, so it’s definitely a feeding frenzy for the coyotes and now that the winter is here, they’re taking the easy way out,” one resident said.
Residents are urging the city to take action and find a solution for the current coyote invasion.
In Toronto, coyotes have been spotted in various areas of the city. Experts say it has something to do with the harsher winter.
“A harsh winter tends to favour coyotes because it weakens prey less suited to severe cold,” writes Brennan Doherty of the Toronto Star. “By contrast, a mild winter generally makes it harder for coyotes to live off their traditional prey in parks and ravines, driving them ever closer to humans in search of food.”
A Windsor man saw two coyotes near a Tim Hortons as he was driving his daughter around the neighbourhood. He recorded a video of the sighting and it has been viewed over 36,000 times on Facebook.
"We used to get reports of them from Windsor police who would tell us all about their coyote encounters in the middle of the night," says naturalist Karen Cedar. "With all of our alleyways through all of Windsor, they just frequent those and even though they're a fairly large animal they're excellent at hiding from people and getting away from being noticed."
The rise in coyote sightings and encounters in these cities could be largely due to human action. Many people tend to feed wild animals they encounter in their yards, despite the fact that most municipalities prohibit the activity.
“They think they’re doing a good thing by feeding these animals and they’re actually creating serious problems for the animal and the residents because the residents are worried about their dogs and cats and kids and it’s creating other problems,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Dioti. “You can’t do something like that within the urban boundaries.”
The City of Toronto has released a guide on what to deal with coyotes:
- Active during the day and at night, particularly dusk and dawn.
- Help to control rodent and rabbit populations.
- Thrive in urban areas because of the abundance of food and shelter available.
- Do not hibernate and may be seen more often during winter months as they are not hidden by foliage.
- Will eat whatever food is available such as small mammals and birds, and improperly stored garbage.
- Never feed coyotes.
- Always exercise caution around them.
Source: City of Toronto