What do I do if I see a coyote?
Seeing a coyote should not be cause for alarm. Like all other urban wildlife, they’re looking for food, water and shelter. However, if the coyote is approaching you or in an area that you’re not comfortable with (your backyard, a busy park), consider hazing it (see below) to scare it away.
Why are there coyotes in my area?
The Eastern Coyote is an extremely intelligent and adaptable species. Since the 17th century, the landscape of our country has vastly changed, pushing out the natural species – bears, wolves, cougars and so on – and making a vacuum in the ecosystem. Coyotes are easily able to navigate urban landscapes and have filled the hole created in the ecosystem.
Will removing food really stop them from coming around?
While coyotes using our areas as travel corridors is quite common, removing an active food source is one of the necessary components in keeping them at an ideal distance from humans. Available food – either intentional or unintentional – will attract coyotes and make them more comfortable around people. Coyotes will remain in urban areas, just as many other species of wildlife have, however ensuring they’re not getting hand outs (along with education, investigation and enforcement of appropriate by-laws) will help keep coyotes wild and away from people.
How can I minimize attractants?
There are several common things around homes that will often attract coyotes and other wildlife. To minimize these attractants, it is recommended that residents keep garbage, recycling and compost indoors until 6 am, keep meat and egg products separate from composting until it is set out, pick up and appropriately discard fallen fruit and berries, do not leave pet bowls (water and food) outside, close off any access to the underside of decks or sheds, clean grills, leave no food outdoors and ensure cats are kept indoors. Dogs (especially small dogs) should be kept leashed and supervised, especially at night.
Don’t coyotes eat dogs and cats?
Coyotes are omnivores: they eat small rodents as well as local vegetation (berries, fruits, etc.). While they may not distinguish between a cat or one of their preferred prey species (such as rabbits or rats), they do not predate on dogs. Most often, dogs are seen as potential competition for food or as a threat to coyotes, as they are canids as well. A study in Chicago – and another in Canada – indicated that less than two per cent of their food source was domestic animals (and it was impossible to tell if that was carrion – animals that had already died).
What should I do if a coyote is watching me and my dog or children?
Coyotes are extremely curious and intelligent animals – they often watch the things happening around them, just as a tourist in a new city would. Young coyotes are immature and very puppy-like: children, and the toys they play with (like balls) can lead a juvenile coyote to want to play. If you are concerned that a coyote is paying too much attention to your small dog or child, pick them up and begin making loud noises and/or throwing objects toward (but not at) the coyote to scare it away (see Hazing).
Do coyotes chase people?
A coyote will not see a person as potential prey – considering their usual meal is a mouse or fallen crab apple, even small adults are much too large. However, like any other species of canid (including your pet dog), they will chase something that runs from them. This is why it’s important to never run from a coyote – stand your ground, wave your arms, make loud noises and/or throw objects toward (but not at) the coyote to scare it away.
Can we relocate them, or keep them out?
Though we – residents – see our communities as separate from nature, it has a thriving ecosystem that includes not only ravines and parks but streets, backyards and construction sites. Relocating (or killing) coyotes is difficult to accomplish and only a band-aid solution. Much like birds, squirrels, raccoons and other animals, they have found a permanent home in our green spaces. Coyotes are beneficial to the eco-system as well; they are Nature’s cleanup crew and help keep populations of rodents under control.
Relocation is a problem as well since wherever the coyote is relocated will already have established coyotes in the area, and territorialism can make survival very unlikely. Attempting to remove one coyote from an area can also separate a family unit, which can lead to a lack of critical education for young pups (as both male and female coyotes raise their pups together) and sadly even starvation.
If I feed them, will they leave pets alone?
Unfortunately, no. As highly intelligent animals, coyotes will recognize that they are being fed by humans, which will result in them returning to the specific area and habituate them – or make them less cautious around people and properties. Feeding coyotes, even indirectly (by feeding birds, squirrels, etc., you attract rodents, which are a coyote’s preferred food if no vegetation is available), will encourage them to attend a specific area and become comfortable around people. Multiple studies from across North America show that feeding animals habituates them and creates a greater chance of conflict.
What do I do if I know or suspect a neighbour is feeding coyotes?
This is a serious situation, and is the reason that so many groups are pushing for a coyote feeding ban. Please encourage them to stop the feeding, recommend that they visit our site or download our coyote pamphlet. Your neighbour, while they may mean well, is playing a huge role in what could lead to potential human-coyote conflicts. Remember– coyotes are naturally shy animals, and will only override their natural fear of humans for a rewarding food source. If the behaviour persists, consider reporting them to your local bylaw office. Most municipalities have a 'property standards' bylaw that an individual may be in violation of.
Why should I report someone feeding wildlife in my neighbourhood?
Feeding wildlife can – and often does – result in conflict. From birds and squirrels to raccoon and coyotes, it puts the natural ecosystem in a state of flux. It teaches the animals that people and their properties are valid food sources; we want them to believe the opposite.
What is hazing?
Hazing is a method of negative association – when a coyote (or other animal) is in an area we don’t want it hanging around in, like a backyard, scaring it away will make it less likely to return. By consistently doing this, they will be more likely to avoid that spot in the future. Hazing can include making loud noises (not screaming), waving arms, throwing objects near, but not at, the animal and chasing. It is also commonly referred to as ‘aversion conditioning’, or ‘escape conditioning’. Hazing is only effective in the long-term if it is coupled with food removal and the other portions a coexistence plan. Coyotes should only be hazed if they are inappropriately encroaching on property or showing a lack of fear toward people.
What do I do if I see a sick, injured or orphaned coyote?
Contact your nearest wildlife rescue/rehabilitation centre. If you cannot find one yourself, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources for your province, and ask for their list of authorized wildlife rehabilitators.
Is it true coyotes are part wolf?
Eastern Coyotes share remnants of DNA with wolves. Scientists estimate that the initial cross-breeding of the species occurred approximately 100 years ago in north western Ontario. While today’s Eastern Coyote may look more wolf-like, it remains significantly smaller (a large Eastern Coyote is approximately 40 pounds – though tall, they are quite lean). The small amount of DNA they share with wolves does not affect their behaviour or lifestyle.
Aren't coyote culls and bounties (via hunting and trapping) necessary to control the spread of disease?
The Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) all state that there is no scientific evidence that trapping is effective at controlling the spread of disease such as rabies. In fact, evidence suggests that trapping can actually assist with the spread of disease. Since traps can’t discriminate which animals they catch, they routinely remove healthy, mature, immune animals thereby reducing competition for habitat and often making room for new animals who are not immune and may even be carrying disease. And because animals infected with diseases often do not eat in the latter stages of illness, they do not respond to baited traps. Sadly, healthy animals do.
Aren't coyote culls and bounties (via hunting and trapping) necessary to control population?
More and more municipalities are beginning to recognize that all wildlife populations exist through multiple stages - growth, carrying capacity and decline. Without human interference, these stages operate on their own throughout the natural world; however, intervention in any one stage can cause unforeseen, long-term trauma to the ecosystem (a key example of this is Yellowstone National Park.) Coyotes are an excellent case in point. There is ample evidence that lethal control measures actually increase their population (articles worth reading are here, here and here.) Top scientists continue to explain that culls and bounties don’t work for the simple reason that "coyotes usually have an orderly social structure, with the dominant pair of a group breeding once a year. If left alone, family groups and populations are stable, with 1st year pup mortality at 50%-70%. If we kill pack members, other members can begin breeding more often, and with more food now available for pup survival, the result is more coyotes".