Mississauga city council will vote next month on whether to adopt upgraded measures to the Ontario municipalities’ wildlife feeding bylaws that aim to reduce negative encounters with coyotes.
The large city (over 700,000 residents) is on the western flank of the Greater Toronto Area and is part of the Region of Peel. In an April 28, 2021 news release, the City outlined Animal Services’ case for the upgrades, as well as the changes themselves.
“Within the last year, reported coyote sightings have increased by more than 50 per cent in Mississauga,” said Jay Smith, Manager, Mississauga Animal Services in the news release. “This is largely due to the launch of our coyote sightings interactive map. However, with increased sightings, changes to the Coyote Management Program are needed to address conflicts. This includes the widespread issue of wildlife feeding that leads to unwanted coyote activity.”
The City’s Animal Services department is proposing changes to the Animal Care and Control By-law that puts “more responsibility on residents who feed wildlife” and allows officers, when enough evidence is available, to fine feeders without witnessing the actual feeding. Additionally, fines for feeding are proposed to increase from $100 to $300.
The feeding of wildlife does lead to dramatic changes in their behaviour and ecosystems, even in urban settings. This can increase the comfort of wild animals around people and people-based activities, putting them at risk of dangers like crossing roads unnecessarily, approaching people and pets, and also lead to illness and disease.
Education plays a major role in reducing negative encounters with wildlife in urban areas, but enforcement is a necessary part of that education process. By proposing policy changes that empowers officers to effectively enforce important bylaws, the City of Mississauga is taking steps towards coexistence.
The Fur-Bearers applaud this move and will look forward to seeing City Council adopted the proposed changes.