A recent letter to the editor in the Burlington Post has no doubt caused increased awareness of coyotes. (Relative to the letter in question, the Ministry of Natural Resources notes that “What are sometimes referred to as “packs” of coyotes are generally an adult breeding pair and their pups from the most recent litter.”)
Since we like to be up to date on things affecting our pets, I contacted Burlington Animal Control to get their perspective. It seems that the population of coyotes is about the same as ever, and they are throughout Burlington, not just in the south, but we often don’t see them. For the most part, they live, eat, reproduce and die without our being aware of them as they typically avoid humans whenever possible, and prefer not to interact. If we follow some common sense guidelines we should be able to co-exist.
To help keep your pets safe:
- Keep your dogs leashed, especially when walking at dawn and dusk – you can scare the coyote more effectively than your dog can, and you don’t want your dog to run and the coyote chase it! (see below for what to do if you see a coyote)
- Don’t let your cats outdoors, ever. Cats are easy-picking for a coyote.
- Feed your pets indoors, and don’t leave any food waste outside as that will attract them and the mice that they feed on.
Recommended reading (excerpt below) – City of Burlington – Coyote Information
Health & Safety Concerns: The coyote, like the fox, is very alert and has keen senses of smell, hearing, and sight. They can live close to humans and be seen very infrequently. Few people know coyotes live in our city unless they have seen one. Seeing a coyote scares some people while others feel fortunate to catch sight of one. Some people may be concerned about the safety of children and pets, and may be afraid that the coyote is sick or has rabies. Coyotes do not usually prey on domestic animals or pets. But none the less it is recommended that if you are concerned about the safety of your pets, feed and keep them indoors. Watch for abnormal behavior or signs of illness. If your home is near a ravine, you may see a coyote. This is not unusual. You should call the Burlington Animal Shelter (905) 632-1362 if you see a coyote showing any of the symptoms or behaviors on this list:
- Approaching dogs or people, or exploring a home or building far from a large park or open area
- Entering a barn or enclosure where large animals are confined limping or staggering or with paralyzed hind legs
- Acting confused
- Attacking non-living objects
- Fighting or attacking pets
Check out Toronto Animal Services, who also have some excellent advise.
The Ministry of Natural Resources recommends the following tips if you encounter a coyote:
If you encounter an aggressive coyote, there are several things you should know and do.
- Never approach or touch a coyote.
- Do not turn your back on, or run from, a coyote.
- Back away from the coyote while remaining calm.
- Stand tall, wave your hands and make lots of noise.
- Carry a flashlight at night to scare off coyotes.
If a coyote poses an immediate threat or danger to public safety, call 911.