Thunder Bay taking coyote feeding seriously

A picture of a coyote in Ontario
An Eastern coyote (Canis latrans) trots down a winter road in Ontario.
Photo by Bob Hilscher / Getty Images

The City of Thunder Bay is stepping up enforcement around the Ontario community’s waterfront following complaints that numerous people are feeding wildlife, including coyotes. reports that a local resident has witnessed people leaving bones on the shoreline near Mission Island, then waiting to watch the coyotes come closer – allegedly approaching people. The witness also says the area is popular for dog walkers, and fears that “sooner or later something’s going to happen.”

The City has responded by stepping up by-law enforcement patrols in the area, and reminded residents through that violating the feeding wildlife by-law can result in a $5,000 fine.

Feeding wildlife, regardless of intent, can change the behaviour of animals, including those who may not be seen when feeding takes place. For example, coyotes will learn to approach people with an expectation of a food reward, begin crossing busy streets, and taking other risks like getting near pets. Directly feeding coyotes isn’t the only way they learn to associate people with handouts or have their behaviour changed – feeding squirrels and raccoons can attract rats and mice, who are a primary food source for coyotes, foxes, birds of prey, and other wildlife.

While a person feeding may believe they’re helping, coyotes (and other animals like raccoons, bears, etc.) are often killed by government agencies when their behaviour changes, or they begin getting more comfortable around people (increased proximity tolerance).

The Fur-Bearers are pleased to see the City of Thunder Bay take wildlife feeding seriously, and hope that residents will learn to live with wildlife by letting the animals be wild.


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