KITCHENER – With coyotes becoming a common sight in urban areas across southern Ontario, largely due to the expansion of neighbourhoods and newer subdivisions into former farmland and green space that were once coyote habitat. In addition, coyote population levels across the province of Ontario are noted to be at a high level.
The City of Kitchener would like to offer the following tips on co-existing with these wild animals:
- Never feed a coyote or any other wild animal including raccoons, deer or rabbits. When animals like the coyote are fed, they not only lose their natural fear of humans but often lose their ability or interest to hunt and locate natural food sources that are an important part of their diet and keep them healthy. In the case where a “problem” animal needs to be removed, it is usually because they have become accustomed to being fed by people and are causing a problem. It only takes one person to cause a problem for an entire neighbourhood.
- 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.