A coyote has attacked another dog along the lakeside trail at the bottom of the Scarborough Bluffs near Guildwood Park. This is the second reported attack on the trail this year.
The attack happened while a reporter was in the area investigating the coyote situation and he photographed the wild animal just minutes afterwards, as it stood in nearby brush watching people.
Guildwood resident Barb Rashotte said she was walking her two Golden retrievers along the trail at around 4 p.m. on March 20, when a coyote went after her dog, Tess.
“It was kind of scary,” Rashotte said. “[The dogs] were out in the bush, then I saw it chase [Tess] right out.”
Tess escaped without serious injury.
Most reported coyote attacks have been on small animals, like rabbits, that are similar size to coyotes’ natural prey. But Tess weighs about 40 kilograms.
This has locals concerned.
“I think there needs to be signs warning people about coyotes,” said Kaely Grace, a Guildwood resident and part-time vet technician with the Humane Society.
Grace has lived on the Scarborough Bluffs for the past three years and has walked her dogs along its trails many times. But last Sunday she decided it was not worth the risk. Grace said she feared the four small dogs she was walking would be tempting prey for the coyotes.
Grace, who has been researching the coyotes in the area, said their population has grown over the past two years.
“[Coyotes] are down there and I think it’s only a matter of time before they come up here in search of more food,” she said.
Bruce Barron, who lives close to the Scarborough Bluffs on Guildcrest Drive, said he has seen coyotes many times, both in Sylvan Park and in his backyard. He is not worried about the coyotes because he has a 70-kg Leonberger, a dog that could easily defend itself during an attack.
“I’ll just pick up a stick when I see them. They’ll usually just stare. I’ve never had one approach me,” Barron said.
Coyotes normally grow to an average size of 18 kg. But the coyote that attacked Tess was much larger, looking to be 32 to 36 kg.
This suggests it was not a typical coyote but rather a coywolf , a hybrid mix of coyote and a wolf.
Trent University geneticist Bradley White, who has studied coywolves for 12 years, told the Toronto Star in August that coywolves have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and aggression and the coyote characteristics of not fearing urban areas.
The coywolf also has a stronger jaw than a normal coyote, which allows it to take down larger prey, according to a Scientific American article.
The Toronto Animal Services website says it is not unusual to see coyotes in residential backyards close to a ravine. But residents are advised to call the city to report all coyote attacks or if they see a coyote approaching humans or pets.