Killing won’t solve negative encounters with wildlife

PHoto of a coyote
Canis latrans (coyote) in an Ontario winter.
Photo provided by Coyote Watch Canada

The following open letter was sent to Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and all members of council regarding a recent statement that lethal trapping of coyotes may be employed in the area.

Dear Mayor Watson and Council,

It is disappointing to read that inherently inhumane traps may be set with the intent of killing coyotes, particularly as this will not resolve any underlying issues that lead to negative encounters.

Coyotes are family-oriented, intelligent animals who live successfully in communities across North America without negative encounters. However, feeding (intentional and unintentional), will teach coyotes and other wildlife that being near people is a way to get food. This can also lead to demand behaviour, similar to domestic animals, which may include directly approaching people, reaching for expected food rewards.

Traps used to catch coyotes include body-gripping traps like leg-holds and Conibears. These traps are indiscriminate and catch non-target species. These incidents include grievously injuring or killing domestic pets. 

Removal of coyotes will not address any underlying environmental or human issues that lead to negative encounters; in some situations, removal of coyotes can increase negative encounters as juvenile coyotes are left to fend for themselves or other animals move in and resume the undesirable, human-altered behaviours.

Without fully investigating the circumstances behind negative encounters, and treating Ottawa’s pristine trails and parks with ecological respect, negative encounters will continue and escalate. The Fur-Bearers and Coyote Watch Canada urge the City of Ottawa to investigate areas for feeding, habitat disruptions, other variables, and utilize available education and enforcement tools to manage people who may be contributing to these issues.

More on coexisting with coyotes and other wildlife, as well as the long-term consequences of feeding, and tools available to municipalities and communities can be found at TheFurBearers.com and CoyoteWatchCanada.com.

Regards,

Lesley Sampson, Coyote Watch Canada
Michael Howie, The Fur-Bearers

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