Corp Comm Connects

Toronto residents raise concerns over coyotes

Residents urge city to do more to stop people from feeding the wild animals.
April 10, 2017
By Alicja Siekierska

The city is urging residents to be on the lookout as it deals with coyotes in the community.

Experts from the city, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and Coyote Watch Canada were on hand at an information session Monday evening to answer questions about how to deal with and co-exist with coyotes.

Several concerned residents at the session urged the city to do more about stopping people from feeding the wild animals, which encourages them to stay in certain areas.

Dawna Wightman was emotional as she recounted what happened to her two pets in October.

Wightman said her cat was attacked by a coyote in her yard near the Beach. A few days later, her dog was snatched by one right off the front porch and dragged to a den nearby.

“The problem is not with the coyotes,” said Wightman. “There’s a problem with people misconstruing what wildlife are. They are supposed to be kept wild.”

Wightman decided to attend Monday’s meeting, which drew about 80 people, because there have been no consequences against those who have been feeding the animals.

“There is no enforcement,” she said.

The city said they are investigating incidents with coyotes, including snatches and bites this year, and are relying on residents to inform them of when people are leaving food out.

“We really hope this helps people open their eyes to how coyotes fit in our environment and how we need to co-exist with them,” said Elizabeth Glibbery, manager of Toronto Animal Services.

“We do have some work to do about how to deal with people feeding animals, we know that. But we hope people have a better understanding now of how coyotes fit in their community.”

Brent Patterson, a research scientist with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, said while coyotes are predators and potentially dangerous, the risk of conflict or harm is relatively low.

“Most of the conflict involving coyotes is preventable,” he said. “They’re not going anywhere, so finding ways to co-exist and minimize conflict is in everyone’s best interest.”

All experts at the session urged residents never to feed coyotes, which can create problems for the entire neighbourhood and is also against city bylaws.

Residents can help keep coyotes away by avoiding feeding pets outdoors, removing bird feeders, and taking garbage out on the morning of pickup, instead of the evening before.

Removing any food temptation is key, Patterson said. He pointed to one incident in Mississauga, where a coyote made the area surrounding a fire hall its home because grease was being dumped nearby.

Residents were also advised to keep dogs on a short leash.

The city says it will host more information sessions in the future.