In light of recent coyote attacks across Canada, a wildlife organization is sharing a few tips on what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Coyotes play a vital role in the ecosystem, experts say, by controlling the population of certain prey species like rabbits, geese and deer. However, they can also be a threat to pets and small children if they become aggressive.
This time of year can be especially dangerous, according to Coyote Watch Canada, a not-for-profit organization that works to educate humans on co-existence with coyotes.
“Right now, in the coyote world, they’re raising families…So, coyote parents are very devoted to their young pups and they could be very stressed and super vigilant at this time,” Lesley Sampson, executive director at Coyote Watch Canada, told CTV’s Your Morning on Friday.
Earlier this year, 6-year-old girl was bitten at a park in Burnaby, B.C., according to the provincial Conservation Officer Service. Earlier this month, a pack of coyotes attacked a jogger and his dogs in North Vancouver, B.C.
In Ontario, a resident of the town of LaSalle warned his community after three coyotes approached him and his dogs near a children’s playground over the weekend.
In the past months, there have been multiple coyote attacks on dogs around populated areas, including in Brampton, Ont.
WHAT’S BEHIND THE ATTACKS?
Sampson said the uptick in aggressive encounters could be caused by humans feeding coyotes.
“Coyotes and other wildlife species can actually be food and human condition with the food reward,” she said. “We don’t want to see demand behaviour, just like dogs waiting to be fed exactly at eight o’clock at night.”
When it comes to attacks on pets, Sampson said most incidents involve dogs running off-leash.
“Dogs are looked at as another predator,” she explained. “If there’s a park where there’s dogs off-leash on a daily basis, that coyote, sadly, might be overly reactive.”
While many people complain about coyote interactions and sightings to city officials, Sampson said the best thing to do right now is to teach neighbours how to maintain safe and healthy boundaries with wildlife.
RECOMMENDED SAFETY TIPS
Coyotes navigate through communities during the daytime, so it is a matter of time before you encounter these wild animals in your neighbourhood. But there’s no need to panic, Sampson said, listing a set of safety tips to protect yourself and your loved ones.
First and foremost, always use a leash if you have a dog, she told Your Morning.
“If you have a small dog, you pick your dog up,” Sampson said.
When walking around green spaces, it’s important to stay present and aware of the surroundings: “Stay off your cellphone, put your earbuds away.”
If you spot a coyote, the Niagara Falls, Ont., coyote expert said, it’s important to maintain eye contact, and to use a “strong outdoor voice” while clapping or waving hands and stomping on your feet. Running away is highly discouraged.
While many people are starting to carry whistles in an attempt to scare coyotes, Sampson said this is not an effective technique.
“The problem with the whistle is that coyotes hear all of these stimuli in an urban landscape. So, they’re hearing horns and whistles.”
Finally, Sampson said it’s really important to report sightings, especially when a person is concerned, as it allows city officials to investigate if there are attractants in the area or if there needs to be more educational outreach in the neighbourhood.
To watch the full interview, click the video at the top of this article.