Montreal residents warned: 'Don't take selfies with coyotes'
Published Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:19PM EDT
Montreal residents are receiving a word of warning from wildlife experts in the wake of increased coyote sightings: the animals are not your Instagram fodder. If you see one, let it be.
“Don’t try to take selfies with the coyote,” said David Rodrigue, director at Ecomuseum Zoo, in an interview with CTV Montreal. “Just enjoy the fact that it’s there and it’s an animal and you have the opportunity to see him.”
Coyotes have always been a part of the city’s urban wildlife, but in recent months they’ve become increasingly visible. Since June, there have been 379 sightings -- five incidents of aggression against humans, 10 dog injuries and one dog death -- according to a city spokesperson. Montreal announced Tuesday it has hired a company to track and trap a small number of coyotes that have become aggressive and euthanize them. They have their eyes on one coyote in particular at the moment, said Emilie Thuillier, Montreal’s Ahuntsic-Cartierville borough mayor and city spokesperson for the coyote crisis.
“It’s quite easy at this moment to see which coyote is causing (the) problem. We know him so we are following him,” said Thuillier, noting that there could be one or a few coyotes involved, but numbers have not been confirmed. If there are 10 sightings in one day, residents will usually have seen the same animal.
The city has also set up a hotline -- following the lead of several other cities, such as Toronto, Vancouver and Niagara Falls -- for people to access information and to report coyote sightings, of which there have been nearly 400 since June. The city has also said it will hold information sessions for residents, and organize door-to-door visits and patrols in various parks.
The increased level of coyote contact is unusual, experts say, since the solitary animal is normally afraid of humans and tends to seek out smaller prey. But Rodrigue said there is one key factor to blame for the latest surge: humans.
“People like to feed animals. They think they help them. They think it’s cute. It’s not,” he said. “Those animals become habituated to people and then they come closer and closer. What happens at some point is they want food. They don’t get it, they get mad -- just like a child -- and they nip.”
There are more reasons beyond human interest for the animal’s increased presence in Montreal’s north and west regions, including resources such as garbage to feed on and other animals to prey on.
“They do very well, so they’ve been reproducing a lot and they’ve been becoming quite visible,” said Rodrigue. It’s that visibility that could ultimately be their demise if humans keep interfering and offering food, drawing them closer and making them more dependent.
“The best way to kill an animal is to start feeding it,” he said.
With a report from CTV Montreal and files from The Canadian Press