East York coyote sightings up over previous year

The infamous East York coyote is still on the lam.

The clever canine has so far managed to avoid capture by authorities, and in all likelihood, will remain free.

Each year, Toronto Animal Services (TAS) receives calls from homeowners around the city concerning wild animals living in populated areas. In most cases, the animals aren’t a nuisance but occasionally a coyote will nab a cat or dog, raising the hackles of pet owners.

Carl Bandow is a supervisor with TAS, and said coyote sightings rose dramatically in 2009 over last year’s numbers.

“We’ve had more this year than in previous years,” he said. “Part of the reason is there’s a heightened awareness with the Beach coyote and the incident in Cape Breton Island (where a young Toronto woman was mauled and died en route to hospital).”

For the most part, coyotes – ranging in size from 16 kilograms to 27 kilograms (32 pounds to 60 pounds) and living up to eight years – aren’t dangerous.

TAS still receives reports of coyote sightings in the Beach but Bandow believes these sightings are not of the animal spotted on a number of occasions last year. Apparently that coyote has moved on.

“The sightings of that particular (coyote) have not continued,” he said. “There are reports of sightings in that area, but it could be different animals.”

Concerned pet owners are encouraged to report any sightings, but there are a few steps they can take at home to help mitigate the problem: Never leave food outside for your pet­, especially meats; avoid walking at dawn or dusk (when coyotes are most active); and carry some sort of personal alarm, such as a whistle, to deter an overly aggressive animal.