Coyote sightings are increasing, and here’s how experts say you can stay safe
TORONTO -- Coyote sightings in parts of Canada have increased this year, with more people reporting sightings in urban areas.
Experts say the higher number of sighting is likely due to a number of factors, including people being at home more during the pandemic. As Canadians start to see more coyotes, here’s what you need to know about the species and how you can stay safe.
According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, close encounters with coyotes are not uncommon at this time of year since it’s their mating season and they’re looking for food. Due to road developments, many wildlife animals are also being pushed out of their natural habitat and into urban areas, resulting in more coyote sightings.
“Coyotes find their way to residential areas, quite often due to human development in terms of making roads and subdivisions in areas that were exclusively their habitat,” Andrew Holland, spokesperson for the Nature Conservancy of Canada, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Friday. “Juvenile animals are not able to find a territory out in the woods, so it’s looking for whatever it can find for food.”
DO COYOTES POSE A THREAT TO ME?
Holland says that because coyotes have adjusted to living in close proximity to humans, they don’t usually pose a safety risk, however he warns that we should still avoid touching or feeding them.
“People should take precautions,” said Holland. “Coyotes are scavengers and eat whatever is available to them. People should not feed coyotes.”
WHAT DO I DO IF I ENCOUNTER A COYOTE?
The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says that if you encounter a coyote, do not turn your back away and run from them. Instead, wave your hands and make lots of noise while backing away. The ministry adds that carrying a flashlight at night could also be helpful.
IS MY PET SAFE? HOW CAN I PROTECT THEM?
Coyote Watch Canada labels coyotes as opportunistic omnivores, meaning their diet usually consists of smaller species like rodents and rabbits, as well as berries and insects. The wildlife organization says that while coyotes might not be able to distinguish a cat between one of their usual preys, dogs are not a common food source. Caution should still be taken however as coyotes often see dogs as a threat to their family or as potential competition for food.
The ministry says that to protect your pets, keep them inside at night and keep their pet food inside. Fencing off your yard can also prevent your pet from roaming off of your property and prevents coyotes from coming in. Lastly, pet owners are encouraged to spay or neuter their dogs because coyotes are attracted to domestic dogs for mating, and to clean up after their remains because coyotes are attracted to dog feces.
HOW CAN I KEEP MY HOME SAFE?
On top of limiting both intentional and unintentional food sources available to them, Holland says that closing off open spaces around your home can prevent unwanted visits from coyotes.
“There are things people can do to reduce the risk, such as not feeding coyotes, keeping garbage containers sealed and locked, feeding pets inside and keeping them indoors, and closing off spaces under porches, decks, and sheds.”
Holland adds that if you’re unable to deal with coyotes that continue to make visits to your home, contact your local Natural Resources department or a licensed nuisance wildlife control officer.