Communities must be compassionate following conflict, and offer solutions

It is a story that makes any dog lover shed a tear. Taking her dog out for a late night pee break, a woman saw her small family pet grabbed and killed by an apparent coyote in an Ontario community.

Northhumberland Today reported that the woman was outside her Cobourg, Ontario home with her dog, Jazzmin, when the incident occurred.

The pain of such a loss cannot be illustrated in this format, nor can it be dismissed. The family is mourning and their feelings of sadness, fear, and anger, are all justified and appropriate. In an interview with Northumberland Today, the dog’s owner expressed clear frustration with a lack of answers from authorities.

The local municipality offered basic information on coyotes and food availability, but that wildlife management is a provincial matter. The provincial body (Ministry of Natural Resources) also offered information on food availability, but provided little else.

It is quite likely that food resources led to this conflict. In fact, Jazzmin’s owner noted that garbage bags lined the street as the local pickup was the next morning, and it’s common to find such bags ripped open in mornings. But it’s one thing to state a simple fact of what may have caused conflict, and another to provide solutions.

Before anything else, whether it is an advocacy group, a community, or a provincial body, these incidents must be treated compassionately. A family has experienced great loss and are filled with an assortment of emotions. Patience and kindness are absolutely essential in all conversations and discussions following conflict.

Yes, it is highly probable that food resources (direct or indirect feeding of wildlife and interference in local ecosystems) led to this conflict. And that means that management of those resources can play a major role moving forward. Changing times of waste pickup to later in mornings so garbage isn’t left out overnight, implementing wildlife feeding bylaws (and implementing reporting systems), and having conversations with individual communities where sightings of wildlife seem disproportionate are a good start – and all things that the municipality can easily handle.

Hazing techniques can also be valuable tools – and something individual community members can get involved with. Hazing is basically teaching coyotes that people, and certain areas, are not a good place to be hanging out (the opposite of how you teach a scared dog to come to you). Our friends at Coyote Watch Canada and the Stanley Park Ecology Society are experts in this and have helped many communities.

Targeted information and literature distribution, much like The Fur-Bearers have done, can also go a long way in educating community members and fostering positive and compassionate communication.

Developing a wildlife management plan, or even just a coyote response plan, can be intimidating for communities who are constantly struggling with tightened budgets and intense demands on resources. But The Fur-Bearers are happy and available to help.

While we mourn with this family who lost their friend, we also remember that the wildlife in such a community is looking for the same things as us – a safe place to raise a happy, healthy family. We can all work together and co-exist.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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