Change can be frightening, particularly when it’s charged by leading headlines in the news or anecdotal horror stories on social media. But seeing new wildlife in your community doesn’t need to be frightful; in fact, it can be wonderful.
Coyotes, as well as other highly adaptive species like raccoons and red-tailed hawks, are a natural part of ecosystems across Canada and North America. And, much like other generalists (animals who can find a plethora food sources and living conditions in many environments), they can easily be misunderstood and subsequently maligned by news and social media.
An account in the Northumberland News this week exemplifies how the mere presence of coyotes can lead to an increase in concern for community members.
There have been two recent sightings of coyotes in the area, including one in the area of the hospital, reads the article. The Cobourg Police Service says officers were dispatched to Northumberland Hills Hospital on Dec. 31 just before 1 p.m. after receiving a report of a coyote observed wandering in the area.
To clarify the facts, coyotes were seen – not approaching people, acting irregularly, or causing issues – and this warranted police presence and an article in the newspaper. Additionally, the newspaper account didn’t provide information on what to do if coyotes are seen, that coyotes belong naturally in the area or that human behaviour is the leading cause of conflict.
The presence of coyotes isn’t something to be afraid of – in fact, it can be exciting! Seeing wildlife is an opportunity to connect with a natural world that is constantly being paved, and coyotes serve as an example of what is possible for an entire species when adaptability is considered (a lesson humanity desperately needs these days).
If you do see coyotes in your community, or more particularly, if you read about coyotes in your community, and feel some concern at the change, that’s okay. Here’s three things you can do to make sure that the coyotes and you don’t come into conflict:
- Check your yard for attractants. Pet food, overflowing/spilled birdseed, garbage, compost, and fallen fruits or unharvested vegetables can all attract coyotes as well as other wildlife.
- Keep pets leashed and in sight. While reports indicate that wildlife attack pets, further investigation will frequently reveal that dogs harass animals into defensive actions, particularly if dens or food sources are nearby. Keeping dogs on leash in nature protects them as well as nearby wildlife. Outdoor cats and small, unsupervised dogs are at risk of injury or death from multiple animals, including birds of prey, raccoons, coyotes, bears, other cats and dogs, as well as disease, vehicular traffic, trapping and hunting activities, and so on.
- Get to know nature. The reason that a coyote sighting can be jarring is that we’re frequently disconnected from nature, whether in urban or rural environments. Get outside, connect with a bird watching or hiking club, learn about local wildlife and green spaces, and enjoy the wonderful world in which we live – and share with wildlife!
Coyotes have learned to live with us – even in the face of constant changes to their landscape and ongoing threats to their lives. It’s time for us to learn to live with them.
Join The Fur-Bearers today and help us provide alternatives to fur and non-lethal solutions to wildlife conflict. We receive no government funding and rely entirely on donations from supporters like you. To become a monthly donor (for as little as $10/month – the cost of two lattes) please click here and help us save lives today.